St. Nick likes to always know what street we're on, so instead of the constant, "What street is this?" I pointed out the little green signs on most every street corner. This morning on the way home from church, we heard from the backseat of the van: "Are we on Lake Doctor?"
Dr. D (who really is a doctor) got a chuckle out of that.
I must say, it's nice to be able to write, "on the way home from church." It had been nearly two years since we'd been able to say that with any regularity, and it's quite possibly the first time in over six years I've been able to say that without the accompanying prayer, "Thank You GOD we're on our way home now! Do we really have to do this again next Sunday?"
I could go into a laundry list of things that didn't work about previous churches, but I won't. There's no point in that - the point is, we have found a church now and have been going since late summer, overjoyed to finally be getting some spiritual food again. The hardest thing to believe is that it's a mega church. With a praise band! And coffee and cookies during the service! And we watch the pastor on a screen! And we love it! Dr. D and I met at a similar church - we both worked there, scrubbing our way through school - and once we left, I never thought I'd visit a large church again. Ever.
But six years of nursery duty and/or teaching Sunday School in small neighborhood churches, churches where I was one of the only stay-at-home moms and the only planning-on-homeschooling mom ... well. At one church, it wasn't unusual for someone on staff to call me and say, "I have this volunteer position open. All you'd need to do is make phone calls to arrange adult Sunday school teachers. What do you think?" "Ummmmmm. What did you say? (to the toddler) Shhh, honey, I can't hear!" And they'd press on, "Since you're home all day, we thought ..." Thought I had nothing else to do than hide out on the roof to make an undisturbed phone call? Because that's about the only place I can go to make an undisturbed phone call. (Undisturbed until I smell the smoke from the kitchen, that is.)
At the next church I made the mistake of volunteering to teach PreK Sunday School. I say mistake - I shouldn't consider it a mistake to serve, and I don't, but ... Not only did I get the pleasure of watching St. Nick interact with children who've spent most of their childhood in day care, I got to enjoy the germs of half the care centers in the city. Since it was a fairly small church, many of the other parents were serving in other areas, so when little Alex or Bailey had green slime coming from his or her nose, sweetie couldn't stay home, else Mom would have to find another deacon to replace her. So I got Alex and Bailey. And then I got sick. And then Little Fish (who was an infant at the time) got sick, but since I had to be in class, he'd go to nursery and I'd go downstairs to share the joy.
I suppose this is typical. But as the stay-at-home-er, there was an attitude from the other mothers that it didn't matter if I got sick. I was at home anyway! No missed time at work for me. One occasion made this clear - one week when the PreK and K Sunday School classes were combined. The K class's teacher smiled (grimaced?) at me, as I sat in one of the kiddie chairs with my pregnant (Mud Pie!) belly about to burst, and she said with a straight face, "It was such a busy week at work, and I haven't been in church in weeks, so I'll just go on up to the service, ok?" She was gone before I could remember the last time I'd attended the service (about three months earlier).
After that we tried a "family" church, with no nursery or Sunday School. I think I've repressed that particular memory. We left early.
Today, rather than drag home after a long two hours in the nursery or Sunday School, we bopped from classroom to classroom picking up our kids, refreshed and nourished. A part of me worries it's wrong to consume the Gospel, to take without giving back, and maybe it is, but right now the church is just going to have to be satisfied with financial gifts, because by Sunday morning, the rest of me has been spent elsewhere.