Sunday, July 22, 2007


The children and I made the long journey to church together today sans Daddy. Daddy has been working all weekend and so we went alone. Before I go on, I must tell you that getting to the church that we've chosen to attend while here takes some time and various modes of public transportation. We walk 12 minutes to the Underground station, we get on the tube. We are on the tube for 15 stops (anywhere between 30 and 40 minutes, depending on how the service is going that day), then off the tube, up and escalator and a flight of stairs. We walk out of the tube station and down a block, to catch the bus. We are on the bus for about ten minutes. Then we walk about 3 blocks to church. So, in all honestly, I was thinking about bowing out on church today. It all seemed too daunting with the three littles. But, in that way only He can, He wooed me there. I wanted to worship Him today, in a church, with other believers.

The trip this morning went off without a hitch -- the service on the Central Line was good. The bus was there fairly quickly after we got to the stop. We arrived at the appropriate bus stop with 45 minutes to spare, which is exactly as I'd planned it. I wanted to spend the morning breakfasting with the children at our favorite patesserie, Valerie's. We love Valerie's. When you arrive at the place, there are always tons of tourists gawking at the outside windows at the absolutely breathtaking visions of cakes, petit fours, cookies, croissants, etc. I'm always amazed that more tourists don't actually go IN to the place, because it's so wonderful and so inviting. I love the atmosphere. Since it's a French chain, there are many Frenchman working there. They are eager to serve you. One of my favorites is a middle-aged gentleman who always greets you with a smile and such courtesy. (So there to all those people who think the French are rude!). Today, he saw me struggling to fold my buggy, came up behind me, and said, "No, no, no madam. Just leave it up. I push it over here. See?" I loved the man in that moment. Another thing about Valeries is they love children and always go ga-ga over them, to my own children's great delight. They even offer to bring them warm milk (which they always decline, thank you very much). Our waiter today was fabulous. He was absolutely taken with the youngest, and she loved it. I couldn't even tell you how many high-fives, and nose pinches each of the children got. But they lavished the attention. When we were getting ready to leave, the youngest said, "That man funny, mommy!" The chocolate croissants there are to-die-for; huge and flakey and covered in confectioner's sugar, not to mentioned drizzled in chocolate. The orange juice is freshly squeezed. A funny thing that my sweet dd4 said as we were leaving today was, "Thank you means 'my pleasure' here doesn't it mama?" Which, translated means, instead of saying "You're welcome", they say, "My pleasure here." Funny little things she notices.

I was feeling pretty good about things so far. The trip had gone well. We'd had a nice breakfast in our favorite Sunday place. We were on time. We headed into the church and soon realized that it was a family Sunday, which meant that the children would be worshipping with the adults today and that there would be no Sunday classes for the children. I decided that I was up for the challenge, even though I doubted how much actual "worship" I'd get to participate in. HTB always has the children in the service for some time, usually until the "Peace" is given. So my children regularly participate in the song worship part of the service. Today, though, they'd be expected to sit through the sermon as well. The song time went well. My littlest one has taken to twirling in the aisles during the song service and it is adorable. Many people love to watch her and often comment that they can't believe she doesn't get dizzy.

I want to stop right here and say that I enjoy having my children in service with us. No, worship is not the same with them there. I can't focus completely on the service as I can without them there. But that's okay. My friend, Stacy, has had some excellent posts and comments about having our children in worship with us. She's definitely given me a lot to think about in this area. And I agree that having my children in the service with me serves many purposes.'s still hard for me not to be selfish about the whole matter. Here it can be even worse, as I think sometimes, "This is the only hour and a half I have to myself." Oh well. I have growth to make in this area. Obviously. Because today I ended up in tears by the end of the service.

The message was on distraction of all things. Distraction. Now, that's a funny little joke God. So, the text was the classic "Mary/Martha" passage. The speaker, Andy Emerton, did a great job of not belittling Martha, which I find is often the case in these sermons. Instead, he shared that we need to learn to balance distraction (of the human variety) and devotion. Obviously distraction like computers, email, work, etc. is not what he was talking about here. He was talking about distractions of those we're in relationship with. Boy, could I relate there. Because just as he was sharing his words, and throughout most of the service, my children distracted me. Mainly, my midddle daughter who seemed to want all the attention that I was trying to devote to Jesus, devoted to her. And by the end of the service, I became weary of it. Weary to the point of tears and talking to God something like this, "Is this a joke, God? Come on! A sermon on distraction when the whole service, I've been distracted by my own children. I wanted so badly to come here to focus on you, but instead, I've cleared my child out of the way of countless people trying to get through the aisle, listened to at least 10 requests to use the bathroom, picked up countless pieces of literature that has been dropped onto the floor from the pew in front of us, and turned down a constant stream of requests to sit on my lap from my middle child. Is this some kind of a cruel joke, this whole sermon on distraction?!"

The still small voice reminded me that He, of all people, understands distractions. He met me in the ending song worship time, reminding me of the constant clamor of the people who followed Him everywhere during his three years of public ministry. He even reminded me that He understood the bickering that seems to go in our home quite frequently these days between siblings. He reminded me that He sees.

No, the service didn't turn out quite the way I'd planned. But Jesus met me there. And He taught me what I really needed to know. He understands. He sees. That makes all the difference to this worn out and distracted mommy right now. This knowing exactly what I need even when I don't, this meeting me in my current circumstances --that's what I love about my Savior.


beth said...

You are a supermom for making that long trip to church alone with the kids, not to mention stopping for what sounded like a fantastic breakfast too! I certainly wish I could have joined you for that.

I love that Jesus spoke to your heart today. Thanks for sharing that.

Anonymous said...

I loved that, Joni! And how true is it that He meets us right where we are. Thanks for that great reminder.

Annette said...

I loved your post! I understand completely. So many times I'm inconvenienced by the distractions, but perhaps God is trying to get my attention by getting it re-focused on where He wants it to be!