Trying to not give attention to the stares and whispers, we gently shoo the children along as we maneuver through the tiny aisles, searching for an empty pew for our large family. Dark eyes follow us as the short man to our left mumbles a comment I pretend not to hear, "All theirs? And another?"
Sitting down, I feel the eyes of judgment on us. Emotions begin to boil inside, I make sure children are seated, hope they are quiet and that focus can be returned to where it should be.
Three people away from me, 5-year old has decided he is too far. Crawling over daddy, then sister, and lastly attempting to pass over toddler who yells, "NO JOSIAH!!!" Before mama has the chance to intercede, 5-year old grabs petite little sister and pulls her off of the pew, promptly replacing her empty place with himself.
With the attention of the church on our family, 2-year old begins to cry from the floor. I lean over, gently swoop her up with a multitude of kisses, and hold her in my arms, stroking her soft hair. With my free arm, I pull my handsome young culprit close to me, and whisper, "Now that was not very nice, was it?"
His face reflects the sadness he feels at his choice of behavior, and he attempts to kiss his sister and apologize, only to have her cry all the louder. After a moment she settles down, and eventually we are forgotten, yet inside I feel a bit dejected having become the spectacle I desired to not be, and most likely causing some people to feel justified in their judgment of my family.
The church service ends, and we cause quite a bit of ruckus packing up to leave. Making our way towards the exit, I feel the eyes on me again, hear the whispers, and I think "Lord, don't these people know You? " Not one smile, not one word of kindness... I know we will not return to this building. I feel such frustration welling up inside me, and I want to tell these people who Jesus is, I want to ask them why they claim His name when they can't even welcome a new family to their church... but I stay silent, I know I am just as guilty as they of judging others, of whispering about people, of not showing love and kindness. I am no different.
Almost to the door, an elderly woman approaches us. Her back hunched over, her white hair glowing under the church lights, tough skin a symbol of many years of care, love, work. She smiles at me and her smile is so large that her wrinkled eyes almost close, and joy just seeps out of her.
"Your family is so precious. Thank you for bringing them today. I don't get to see this much these days, but I am so blessed when I do. Do you know what you have here? Do you? A legacy. The only one that matters. You have so much to be grateful for."
I was grateful for her. For her love, her joy, for the wisdom flowing through her and a knowledge of something greater.
I thanked her as she walked away, and I was knew why we had gone there that day.
And I continue to show my gratitude...
29. the wisdom of those older
30. the legacy we leave
31. a God who wants us just as we are and wants us to be what He calls us to be...not what man does
32. cloth diapers to wash and hang
33. community of believers who are no better, no worse than I
35. flowers blooming in the yard
36. catching fish, raising fish
37. a boy growing so big, bursting out of every new clothes size
38. a husband who loves his children, who teaches them and plays with them
39. fresh baked bread
40. children who make the bread
42. a mother, a sister who remain my best friends despite distance
43. friends who care, who open their hearts and lives to you
44. sitting down for dinner at an overly crowded table with the ones I love
Join in counting one thousand thanks...