Married for seven years, three boys so far…it was time for us to find a church closer to home. Traveling to church in another town with three boys under seven was draining our enthusiasm. We heard good things about the Point Lookout Church since it had a new pastor and wanted to try it out.
On a warm, breezy spring day, as cherry blossoms sprinkled the ground with pink confetti, Gene and I drove through this beach town, excited for new beginnings. We liked how Sunday school was during the service so Stephen and Andrew could go downstairs with the kids. We could enjoy the message as the baby slept in my arms, on an ideal day.
We could have picked any Sunday to visit this church, but we chose Mother’s Day. This was the day their children’s church would sing a special song they had rehearsed for weeks, according to the bulletin. Everything looked perfect: roses and baby’s breath garnished the church and released a lovely fragrance; people were hugging and talking and friendly to us. It was a happy place, but I still had that nagging twitch that Stephen and Andrew were okay in a new Sunday school.
Our oldest son, Stephen, is my opposite, socially speaking. When he was six, on a typical walk to Magnolia Park, we’d end up in another six year-old stranger-turned-friend’s home admiring their fish tank and lizard collection while I was forced to socialize with the accompanying parent. Never mind that I had to take baby Elijah out of the stroller and plant him on my hip while four-year-old Andrew hugged my leg. I’m sure God was working on my reaching out skills through this social son, but that’s another story. I’m shy and would rather not be dragged into these awkward situations…but for my kids I would suffer through flushed cheeks and anxiety.
After singing a few modern worship songs played with a full band of guitars and drums, they ended the worship part of the service with a quiet hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” on the piano. According to the bulletin, the children’s song would follow. We weren’t sure what they’d do with Stephen during the song since he was new, but thought he’d probably sit with us until it was over.
In that minute of quiet lull, when all heads were turned toward the back awaiting the children’s procession, we waited for Stephen to join us, or hoped he’d join us, but he didn’t. No, he marched down the aisle with the other children. Well, the other children marched. He bounced. Tiger from Winnie the Pooh came to mind. I think he was trying to see past the taller kid in front of him. I looked at my husband who wore the same “uh oh” expression, and whispered, “He’ll probably just stand there since he won’t know the song, right.”
“Are you sure you’re talking about Stephen?”
“I’m hoping and praying behind my hand. Would anyone recognize him? We’ll walk out fast before they realize he’s our son.”
Stephen smiled as the song began. “Shout to the Lord all the earth let us sing…” His mouth opened wide and his hands swayed side to side…then more Tiger bouncing. I could hear his voice sing the chorus almost on key. The other kids stood at attention, singing and focused on their teacher conducting.
I wished my hands were larger to hide my face.
The three minute song felt like thirty painful minutes of turning red as the roses in the church. As they marched back down the aisle, Stephen waved at us, shouting, “Happy Mother’s Day!”
Gene whispered, “Guess our plan won’t work now. He’s ours.”
Even in my flushed face, I was glad. “Yep, he’s ours. Our happy child.”
After the pastor clapped, he said, “That was lovely. I noticed one singer filled with the Holy Spirit. Boy, did he enjoy that as much as I did!”
Right then, we knew this church was home.
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