Why We Take Our Kids to Church

Easy Like Sunday Morning, Only Not

People always refer to the Lionel Richie lyrics “easy like Sunday morning,” only I can’t help but think that Sunday morning isn’t easy at all.

During church this morning, and even after church this morning, I sit and ask myself why we take our kids to church? It certainly isn’t an easy task. It definitely leaves me frustrated, and it may be paranoia, but I feel like everyone is looking at me and wondering why I can’t control my kids. To top it off, I usually don’t leave feeling like I’ve heard the message for the day. Instead of listening, I’m fetching snacks, crayons, and sippy cups. Instead of praying, I am juggling kids between arms, saying “shh, be quiet” and trying to keep said kids from tearing up the hymnals. Instead of joining in fellowship with our church members, I’m counting down how many songs we have left until mass is over. And let’s not even discuss all of the preparation it took to get to church in the first place and how we are always running out the door.

Needless to say, all of this has me contemplating why we go through the same routine of taking our kids to church every Sunday morning when it leaves me asking for Jesus and wine, when I should have gotten both of those things at church. Joking about the wine at church, people. I’m fully aware that’s not the purpose of the wine at church.

Let’s Get it Over With

We either go to 7:30 mass or 9:00 mass on Sunday mornings. I’m not going to lie and say we don’t sometimes enjoy that 7:30 AM mass because it allows us to go ahead and get it over with. Terrible, right? But it’s true because we know the ordeal that it is to take two toddlers to church. Let’s not even discuss that family that has seven kids under the age of about 12 who all sit so perfectly quiet like little angels from heaven. I NEED their secret.

Our kids usually wake up pretty early, so if we go to 7:30 mass, that means we are home around 8:45, and we have the morning to play, and the boys seemingly do a little better at that time of day. If we wait and go to 9:00 mass, the boys usually end up hangry and tired, and we usually end up alternating kids in the cry room or the atrium, or when it’s really bad like today, we end up outside because even the other people in the atrium and cry room with their kids are looking at your kid.

Expectations

Chad and I both come from devout Catholic families. We both attended Catholic school, and I taught at a Catholic school. There were certain behaviors that were expected of us growing up, and in return, we have those expectations for our kids. That seems to make church even more difficult sometimes. We have to remind ourselves that they are only two and a half and sixteen months, however, there’s a fine line with saying that. At what point do you stop saying, “They’re only ____.”

A couple of weeks ago, we were both standing in the atrium with both kids, so yeah, they were both acting up, and he looked at me and said, “Do you think we expect too much out of them?” and I answered, “Yes, probably so.” But truth be told, I’m ok with that. I want to have high expectations for our kids in every aspect of life. I expect them to behave in church, I expect them to behave at school, I expect them to be kind and friendly with good manners. Those expectations will continue and only be met with more and higher expectations as they grow older. I will expect them to do chores, I will expect them to do well in school, I will expect them to work hard at everything they do. Because if you don’t have high expectations for your kids, they will never meet them, and they will never reach their fullest potential.

So Why Do We Take Them To Church

So, that brings me back to my original question, why do we go through the trouble of taking them to church when it is anything but easy? I’m not going to lie, I had to sit and think about this. I had to ask this question to Chad. He always seems to have better answers to questions like that than I do. Thankfully today, our answers pretty much lined up together.

Here is the list of reasons we came up with as to why we take our kids to church:

  1. First and foremost, we take our kids to church for the obvious reason – to know God and to learn to praise, worship, and celebrate Him. We pray with our kids at home, they know about God and Jesus, we read Bible stories with them; however, they need an understanding of God’s house, the sacraments we celebrate within the Church, and our church family that joins together with us in a weekly celebration of our Lord. They need to learn about the Sabbath and how to keep it holy. We want our children to grow up in the Catholic faith as we did, and to do that they must be present. The only way they can truly learn about these things is by taking them to church and showing them exactly what it means to be present.
  2. Simple, it goes back to expectations. If we take them now, they will know what behavior is expected in church as they get older. It is a little more difficult with our sixteen month old, as he’s too young to really understand why he’s being taken out, but we can already tell that our two year old is starting to figure it out and starting to behave better overall. Not only is he already learning how to behave, but he is also learning about the liturgy. He already dips his hand in the Holy Water and does the sign of the cross, he already shows us his prayer hands, he already does the sign of peace, and he already repeats things the priest says. Imagine if we took them to church for the first time at five. Sure, they would understand you telling them to sit there quietly, but they would be asking a million questions because the whole concept would be foreign to them. Hopefully by five, we have children that are taking part in the service and asking about the meaning behind the different parts of the liturgy because they will already know how to act in church.
  3. If we don’t take our kids to church, what will happen to the church? Think about that for a minute. What would happen to the future generations of the church if no one takes their kids? There are so many answers to that question, and none of the answers are good ones.
  4. We want our children to grow up with a faith community just as we want a faith community for ourselves. A community they can have that supports them in all aspects and helps them to grow in their faith like we need a community to support us. We want to see others bringing their kids to church too. We want to support others by saying, “Hey, we get it. It’s hard. I see you battling your kids like me. Let’s do this together. Let’s raise our kids to show each other the same support and love for their faith that we are showing each other.” How comforting is it when you see another parent battling their child look at you with that face that says I get it! The struggle is real! It is beyond comforting for me because I’m reminded I am no alone. I am part of a community of believers.

Our Desire

I’m sure if I sat longer and contemplated, which I’m sure I will do later, I could think of several more reasons as to why we take our kids to church. Regardless of the exhaustion and battles that comes with bringing our children to church each week, we will continue to do it. We will continue to do it because we are raising kids that we hope not just know who God is, but have a true understanding of how much He loves them and how much he desires a relationship with each of them. We want them to be true examples of showing others Christ like love and forgiveness. What better way to learn that than in His house with fellow believers?

Runaway + Noah’s Ark

It’s too Quiet

It’s quiet in my house, and I don’t even know what to do with myself. Two mornings in a row where it is so quiet I could hear a pen drop. I’m not battling naptime, terrible two tantrums, 15 month old frustrations (this is new!), or sibling fighting. Oh, and did I mention my house is clean? I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. But really, it’s too quiet, and I don’t know how to act. Yesterday when it was this quiet, I text Chad telling him I didn’t know what to do, so I started cleaning the windows. Why would I spend my quiet time like that? It makes me a little appreciative of all of my #jesusandwine moments, but then I remember the moments, and I’m ok with the quiet.

Let me just tell you a recent one to make you feel better about your parenting and to remind you that I’m holding on to my Mom of the Year title, so you can’t have it.

Mail Time

One thing James has loved since we’ve moved to Houston is getting the mail. Our mailman, Mr. Jason, brings the mail to the door every day with a smile on his face, and makes my boys feel oh so special. We love Mr. Jason! I love it too because selfishly, Mr. Jason is my only interaction with another adult until Chad gets home. James watches out the window in the afternoons to see if he is here yet so he can go outside and get the mail. Mr. Jason always gives them a high five and comes back two or three times on the days James asks for “one more”.

Well, the other day, Mr. Jason came to deliver the mail. I was holding Weston, the kid is HEAVY, and James was refusing to take the mail that day. Who knows the reasoning in that child’s head as to why he wouldn’t take it. While I’m taking the mail, Mr. Jason says, “uh oh”. James had run halfway down the street, on the sidewalk thankfully, and had no intentions of stopping. He does this from time to time. Run away. That’s why we only play in the front yard when we get the mail.

I sat Weston down in the grass, one time I’m thankful he still refuses to regularly walk, and ran to get my runaway child. Might I add, James is looking back and laughing at me like it’s all some fun game. I yank him up, walk back to the house where I left my other child sitting in the grass with the mailman, and try to parent in public which we all know looks quiet different than parenting in private. I know Mr. Jason thought I was crazy since I plopped my child down in front of him and chased after the one that I didn’t even know was running away until he mentioned it. JESUS.AND.WINE

In the Midst

In the midst of all our craziness, I am still trying to get in some devotion time with the boys, even though I’m falling a little short in this area lately, but hey, it’s real life, and this happens.

We did get to finish a fun one yesterday that I wanted to share with you! We started by reading the story of Noah’s Ark from this sweet book. My boys love this book because they get to lift all the flaps, but they still don’t quiet understand the word “easy”, so needless to say, not all of the flaps are still in tact. Surprise, surprise.

Don’t’ Forget to Discuss

Don’t forget to discuss the story with your child. Even if you think they don’t understand it, they’re taking in some of what you say. I would ask James questions and explain the story to him in toddler words, and in his sweet little voice, he would say “yeah!” We’re still working on a consistent “yes ma’am” around here.

Once we finished reading the story, we sang this song on the Apple TV. I love me some Apple TV. YouTube and Netflix at my fingertips. A reason in the pro column for technology.

The Project

After our music time, we began our craft. I cut a paper plate in half. The top of the paper plate would be the rainbow, and the bottom of the plate would be the ark. James colored the bottom piece brown with crayon. You could use marker or paint for this as well, but we all know my kids aren’t trustworthy enough for all that.

We then painted the rainbow (top half of the plate) with our beloved DO-A-DOT art paint. I started the colors for James and helped him place them in line. You can see where he got a little happy with the dots in some places and didn’t want to go in line, but I think that makes it all the better, as it shows a two year old did it.

Once both halves of the plate were finished, I glued the rainbow portion to the top of a blue piece of construction paper, and the ark portion of the plate to the bottom of the construction paper. Each piece of the plate will hang over the edges a little bit so that the animals can fit between the rainbow and the ark.

After the plate halves were glued down, we glued cotton balls to the ends of the rainbow. James liked this part. I would put a dot of glue on the paper, and then he would put the cotton balls on the glue.

Now, it was time for the animals, however, Mom of the Year over here didn’t have what she needed to finish the project, so I jumped on Amazon and ordered these animal foam stickers. My mistake: telling James we had animals to put in the ark. This was a mistake because every day until the animals came in the mail, he asked about them. One day, he seriously asked me every thirty minutes. He wouldn’t even nap that day because every time I went in his room to tell him to lay down, he asked me if the animals were here yet. Never again will I tell him something is coming in the mail until Mr. Jason puts it in the child’s hands.

So a couple of days later, when the animals finally made their long awaited arrival, it was time to finish our project. By this point, daddy was home mowing the grass and that became much more interesting than the animals he had been asking for two whole days, so Weston got to finish the project by sticking the animals between the rainbow and the ark which made it look like the animals were in the ark.

The Results

Overall, this was an easy and quick craft to do with your little one, and I thought it turned out pretty cute for a two year old. As always, use what you have and what works for your child. You could make the rainbow out of Froot Loops, paint, Skittles, pom pom balls, etc., and you could use these or these for the animals. I hope y’all enjoy this fun craft and devotion!

Jesus and Wine Kind of Morning

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Let’s Get Real

So, it has been a complete #jesusandwine kind of morning around here. That’s right, not just a fleeting moment, but a whole entire morning. How is it that by 8:00 every morning my house can look like a tornado rolled through town? When my control freak self kicks in, I sing the Let it Go song in my head. Yes, really. I have to be reminded that it’s ok if my house is a disaster. One day, when they’re all grown up and gone, it will be clean, and I’m sure then I will want it chaotic and messy again.

Also, as a friend and I were discussing this morning, how do these kids find every cord in the house? Every. Single. Cord. And where does it go? Their mouth. My morning has consisted of lots of cords in mouths. And of course, our nap time tribulations have continued into today, which meant going down for a nap was not only an ordeal, but we also woke baby brother up with our banging, jumping, and screaming. Might I add, this baby brother of ours is apparently going through a total sleep regression, as he has woken up the past few nights. Not just woken up. Woken up and stayed up for two hours until he feels ready to go back to sleep.

I know so many of you can relate. Please never take my stories about my kids as being ungrateful. They are my two greatest blessings, and I am so very thankful for them, but this is all about being honest and not painting a perfect, unrealistic picture of parenthood, so real is what you get.

There’s More

So naturally the way that my morning went, you can imagine how well our attempted devotion time went. I’m going to tell you about the devotion so that you can try it with your child. I’m sure your kids will listen and participate better than mine, so it can still be successful! I honestly kind of just randomly had this idea in my head and wanted to try it out not knowing if it would be a complete fail or not, and to my surprise, it did work!

Story Time

We started by reading the bible story about Joseph’s Colorful coat from one of our favorite bible story books. Well, I read while they did everything but listen, but that’s ok. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. I was still reading to them which is the important thing.

If I’m being honest, there wasn’t much of a discussion after story time today. Look at previous paragraphs and you can imagine why, however, this would be a great story to talk about jealousy and forgiveness with your child. In toddler terms, it would be great to talk to them about not wanting a toy their sibling or friend has and taking it from them. Also I know that when James makes bad choices we make him apologize, and I always make sure to tell him “it’s ok” or “I forgive you”, and I encourage him to say, “it’s ok” when I apologize to him. Yes, I apologize to my two year old on a regular basis. They learn from what they see!

Project Time

After we read the story, project time began. Again, if I’m being honest, I pretty much did this craft by myself because James wanted to paint his hands and the table, and my chunky monkey Weston was only concerned about his cheetos. With that being said, it can easily be completed be a toddler.

I have seen in the past where people will use marker on a coffee filter and then drip water on it to make the colors run together. Since I refuse to let my kids use markers at this point (we’re in a rental house, and I don’t trust them), I thought maybe, just maybe the DO-A-DOT Paint Markers we have would have the same effect as the markers, and they did! These are a staple in our house! James loves them and thinks he’s painting every time he uses them. They are much less messy than regular paint, and not as easy to draw all over the place with like markers.

I used all different colors and made sure there was not much white left on the coffee filter. You want it covered in color, aka, you’re making Joseph’s colorful coat. I then took a medicine syringe, as that’s what we have plenty of around here, and filled a small cup with a little bit of water. You could also use a toothbrush or a medicine dropper to sprinkle the water. It does not take much water at all. You don’t it soaked, you just want enough water for the colors to start to bleed together, so just start putting little drops of water all over the coffee filter. Fill in those small white spots! Be sure to put something under your filter while you’re doing this. I put it on a piece of construction paper and then put a cookie sheet under the paper.

Now, it’s time to sit back and let it dry! It really doesn’t take too long, but I’m sure you could set it outside to dry quicker or use a hair dryer. Since my kids were so uninterested, I just let it dry on the counter. Once it was dry, I cut the coffee filter into the shape of a coat. It really looks more like a dress, but some of you more artistic people could probably make it look more like a coat. Plus, it was in biblical time, so I feel like I get a pass on that one.

Last, I used tape to put it on a black piece of construction paper to really make it pop. I haven’t tried glue, but I wouldn’t use it. I would imagine with the coffee filter being so thin, you’d be able to see the glue lines through the coat.  Then, I took a white crayon and wrote, “Joseph’s Colorful Coat” so that my husband would know what it was when he saw it on the fridge after work.


Really though, don’t make fun of my coat. It should be a little more boxy, but it’s the idea that matters! Also, the great thing about this craft is that you could use the same concept for so many different things – you could make a cross, an Easter egg, etc. I may just have to try those myself!

Cheers to hoping your morning is going a little more smoothly than mine, and prayers for a more relaxed afternoon!

He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands

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Jesus Time

Happy Sunday! Today, I am turning my #jesusandwine into some Jesus and coffee and having a little bit of me time at Starbucks while the boys nap. We all need a little me time every now and then to stay sane, and I admit, I am not the best about making it happen. Can we say mom guilt? But after church this morning, I knew I needed to get some in!

I went and enjoyed some much desired time at adoration. Our church in Houston has had 24 hour adoration since 1981. I know if you aren’t Catholic that might not mean much to you, but trust me, that is pretty amazing. I am so glad I finally had the opportunity to enjoy that special time and spend some time in prayer and reflection, especially before this Lenten season begins. Curious as to what Eucharistic Adoration is? Here is a great link explaining it, should you be interested

Remain Devoted

Today, I am going to share a super quick and easy devotion I did with my boys this week. Remember, it doesn’t always have to be fancy. The message is the most important part of the devotion time, and although my kids are still a little too young to fully understand, if I remain devoted to doing this time with them, I know one day it will click and be a beautiful thing.

It’s kind of like taking them to church at this age. Do they get it? No. Do they behave? Mine sure don’t. Do I get anything out of it? Not usually. Is it stressful? Oh my heavens, yes!! However, I know that we still have to take them regardless of how much time is spent in the atrium, outside, or in the cry room. One day, it will click, and one day, we will be happy we spent that time taking them while they were young.

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

We started devotion time by reading this book because well, I always have to incorporate a book. It’s just second nature. Y’all, this book is amazing. I know everyone already knows the words to the book because it is simply the song, however, the illustrations in this book are beautiful! They truly resonated with me and made the words that much more powerful.

Once we read the book, I followed my own devotional tips from my previous post, and incorporated some music. Hello YouTube! I sure do love you, and so do my boys. We danced and sang to a few different versions of the song before our very simple craft began.

Seriously y’all. I can’t even believe I’m telling you what we did next because it is seriously pretty boring and so simple, however, remember, it is the message that you get across to your little one. I simply Googled, “He’s got the whole world in his hands coloring sheets”, clicked on “images”, found this one that I liked, enlarged it, clicked print, and cut it out. So. Simple. I gave James and Weston blue and green crayons, and let them go! Of course, Weston just ate the crayons, but that’s ok, we’ll get there.

I then cut out the picture, glued it onto blue construction paper, and wrote “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” in my favorite black sharpie and hung our newest project on the fridge. James is always so proud of his work and loves to show daddy when he gets home from work. I love that he already has a since of pride in his work and hope he always does. What an important lesson to learn in itself!

The Message

Now, although the devotion was so quick and so easy, don’t forget to discuss the importance behind it to your little one. Discuss the world and how God created it. With little ones, they are still figuring out what the world is, so you can explain the trees, the animals, and the people. Then remind them who God is, where he is, and that they can pray to Him. It’s also a great lesson to remind them that God not only loves them, but God loves everyone and everything no matter our differences. He has all of us in his hands. One reason I loved the picture I printed out so much is because the hands were visibly holding the world. That gave me the opportunity to explain that those were God’s hands, and he is always holding us.

James and I not only discussed the message, but I also incorporated his colors into the lesson, as well as a discussion about the world (land, water, etc.) Always incorporate various subjects into one lesson if you can. Get those kiddos connecting the dots and thinking critically about how one subject can relate to the next!

Enrich the Lesson

As always, for your older ones you can go more in depth with the message as well as the craft. When I was teaching at a Catholic school and teaching religion class, I loved to use the website, www.catholicicing.com. They have great ideas! It was no doubt they had this amazing craft that would work great for your older kids with this lesson.

I hope you and yours enjoy this lesson like we did! Remember to always make it work for your family. What works for mine might not always be what works for yours. Take the ideas and run with them. Now, go enjoy your Sunday Funday, and enjoy some Jesus and maybe an afternoon toddy.

Toddler Devotion Example

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Tips for Devotion Time

I am not even going to pretend that it’s easy to do a devotion with my wild boys. They are one and two, so needless to say, their attention span is SHORT. Did I mention they were boys? Yeah, I have decided after teaching for a few years, being married, and having two of my own, that means their attention span is even shorter.

With that being said, here are a few helpful tips I have found through trial and error that help get the devotion in and productive:

  1. Keep it short. As said before, their attentions spans can’t handle anything too in depth, so the shorter the better!
  2. Incorporate music. My boys absolutely love to dance and sing – singing and dancing to “Shake Your Booty” is their personal favorite. Also, remember this helps those kinesthetic and musical learners. Kids love to learn by moving, shaking, and singing! Singing will also help your toddler with language development, so that’s an added bonus.
  3. Do an art project. This is a little more difficult for the younger toddlers like my 14 month old but great for my two and a half year old. If you can, find a way to do a hands-on project that relates to the devotion. It extends the devotional time, while maintaining the child’s attention. It can also help with their fine motor skills. If you have a young toddler like me, I talk out loud so he can hear what my older child and I are doing, but I give him something else to play with – usually an activity to work on his fine motor skills as well.

Devotional Book

One of my sweet friends gave me a ton of books when I had my oldest son. She also happened to be my youth minister in high school, so there were plenty of religious books in the pile, which I loved! She has two boys close in age like mine, so I love getting her advice any time I can. Her boys are now in 5th and 6th grade and are little angel babies. I ask her if there is still hope for my boys to be as sweet as hers. She assures me there is, but on my Jesus and wine kind of days, I’m just not so sure.

Here is the book she gave me that we use all the time! It is pefect for little ones with short attention spans!

Example Devotional for Toddlers

To start our devotion, I read a story from the devotional book, which this time was about Peter, James, and John in the sailboat. Another reason this book is so great is because it has a CD that comes along with it, as each story has a song that is related to it. The song related to this story was, Peter, James, and John in a Sailboat. If you’re like me and don’t own a CD player, I pull up YouTube on my iPad or AppleTv and there ya go!

Once we read the short story, I pulled up the song on the iPad. YouTube can sing a lot better than me, so I let the music video take the lead from there. There are all different versions of each song, so that can be fun too. We found some that were a cartoon version and some that had dance motions to them!

After we watched a few of the songs and sang along, it was time to start our art project! This project was actually completed around Valentine’s Day, so I chose pink and red as my main colors, however, it is a totally appropriate craft to do anytime of year even though it uses hearts. Just change up the colors you use and it will look great!

After being a teacher and working with some amazing people who were willing to share all of their resources, I am a major believer in not reinventing the wheel and using the materials you already have, therefore, improvise! I used construction paper because that’s what I had on hand at home. This could also be done with felt, colored art foam sheets, etc.

Since we read about Jesus providing fish for Peter, James, and John, we decided to create a fish out of heart shapes! It is a total of five hearts: one, large heart for the body, a small heart for the fish lips, a small heart for the tail, and two small hearts put together for the fins. Once all of the hearts were glued together, I drew an eye on the fish with a sharpie. Had I had googly eyes at home, that would have been much cuter to use! I then let James take a blue crayon and color at the bottom as if the fish were swimming in the water. Last, I wrote a quote from the bible story we read on the art project to help remind us what we talked about.

He liked to pretend the fish was biting his finger and then scream, “ow!” and laugh. That one is all boy!

This was a super easy lesson, and it didn’t take long at all. It was pretty much fail proof minus the lovely moment of James trying to eat the glue…

But hey, that’s the reality around here. The little one was asleep during this time as well which, selfishly, makes things a little bit easier. This project had us talking about Jesus and didn’t have me asking for wine, so that’s a win in my book! I hope you and your little ones enjoy as much as we did!