The Quiet Bag “How To”

The Quiet Bag “How To”

A few weeks ago, a post of mine about “The Secret to a Successful Quiet Bag” was reposted. It really sparked my thinking.

I have been immensely blessed in my life with several older moms who have shared their wisdom, experience, and humor with me. They have done so with grace, with understanding, and with much love. They help keep me grounded and they help keep me going, even when it seems I will be swallowed by dishes, dirty laundry, and discipline!

I asked several of them the practical “how-to” of putting together a quiet bag for little ones. The following is a compilation of their wisdom and one or two ideas of mine:

The Quiet Bag

  • Do only put quiet items in there. (The noise-making trucks and dolls that cry are mesmerizing to kids, but are like your cell phone ringing–they only ever make noise during the quietest point of worship!)
  • Do switch it out monthly. (Everyone gets bored with the same stuff.)
  • Do store it in a place where your child can’t play with it during the week. (That way, by Sunday, those items are “new” and therefore more exciting.)
  • Do try to wait to open it till the sermon (or perhaps the Lord’s Supper. When my little guy was younger, I would have a special book and fun jewelry for him to look at during the Lord’s Supper and then would open his special quiet bag during the sermon). Don’t waste your bag of tricks until you really need it!
  • If your child has a snack mid-morning, do include a snack in your quiet bag! Just make sure that it is easy to clean up. There WILL be spills. Often on yourself.
  • Try to include things that are church- or God-oriented if you can. (This doesn’t always work, but if you have some Bible board books, it is great to get your little one thinking about Godly things and associating God with worship time!)
  • Do have everything prepared BEFORE Sunday morning. That saves your sanity as well as your time. Somehow, Sunday mornings don’t seem to have as much time in them as other days of the week!
  • Don’t feel bad if your kid doesn’t like what you put in there! He/she is a person too, with their own likes and dislikes. Just switch out the items for something they enjoy more.

Items you could include in your quiet bag

  • Coloring book and crayons
  • Stickers and notepad
  • Fake wallet (It may be unwise to hand them your actual driver’s license and debit card!)
  • Books
  • Soft toys/stuffed animals
  • Lacing cards
  • Mirrors
  • Jewelry
  • Snacks
  • Aquadoodle
  • EtchaSketch
  • Puzzles
  • Items that button, zip, or snap (an old wallet, old Bible cover, etc.)

 

What would you add? God bless you and your littles as you train them to know and worship God!

The Secret to a Successful Quiet Bag

The Secret to a Successful Quiet Bag

You’re in the middle of worship. The entire church has their heads bowed in fervent, quiet prayer when suddenly your kid erupts like a verbal volcano and discovers that your previously vetted out and carefully chosen toy can be:


  • whacked noisily against the pew in front of you,
  • launched like a Cuban missile onto the other side of the auditorium,or
  • just in general be likened to an explosion of sound and excitement.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt that mixture of panic, frustration, and embarrassment. These things never seem to happen in the middle of a great, noisy, swelling song, only during Communion or a prayer! So what’s the secret to making your quiet bag a success? I’m here with the answers. Maybe…

Grace

Pack in grace for yourself. Grace for your kid. Grace knowing that no matter how hard you try or how well you prepare, you can’t always be perfect or utterly quiet or completely still. And that’s OK.

I’m not saying to let your kid run loose on Sunday morning while throwing him goldfish in the middle of the sermon. But I am saying that it’s OK if neither you or your kid are perfect. Give yourself the grace that you would extend to other moms. And find peace in the fact that God sees your efforts and will reward them.

Patience

I know. This is like a dirty word with Christians. The problem with praying for patience is that you get it, right?

But you’ll need it. You need lots and lots and lots of patience to quiet your kids, to miss yet another chunk of the worship service, to smile instead of strangle.

Patience is knowing that you’re doing this for the end game. Nobody in their right mind says, “Boy, that mother of two toddlers and a baby is coming to church and just filling her spiritual cup to overflowing.”

patience

What she’s doing is showing her kids that even when it’s hard for her, even when it’s not ideal for her, even when she may only get five minutes out of the worship service–it is still the most important thing to do. There is nothing more important than going to worship the Creator of the Universe. To give Him the praise and adoration He deserves. And to teach our kids to do the very same.

A Sense of Humor

This is, perhaps, the key to surviving not just a worship service, but motherhood in general! Laughing at the crazy, the ludicrous, and the full moon coming out in your kid (and perhaps you!) is the best way to relieve your stress.

It’s OK to find it funny when your son has a poopsplosion in the middle of opening prayer. And It’s OK to giggle when he happily shares his now-slimy cheerios with the little widow you chose to sit next to this morning. Finding joy in these moments is perfectly OK!

Without joy, you’ll turn into a little ball of stress–and that’s no fun for anyone.

So this Sunday, good luck! And good mothering!

proverbs-22_6

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I’m Glad I’m a Bible Class Teacher

I’m Glad I’m a Bible Class Teacher

It starts with:

What? You teach kids in Bible class? Bless your sweet heart! You really drew the short straw.

These people are well meaning, good-intentioned people. They are people who love me.

But they don’t get me–or why I teach.

Bless my heart? I drew the short straw?

When I get to watch little eyes light up as I pull cotton balls and blue felt out of a box and pass it around? You see, God made the sky and the clouds.

When I get to hear the audible gasp as the Tower of Babel (built on a smaller scale with blocks and not bricks) falls with a crash? You see, God’s power is bigger than men’s.

When I see the wonder and awe on a little face as I turn a bowl of water red with a few food coloring drops? You see, God can do anything, including turning the Nile into blood.

Bless my heart? I drew the short straw?

The Blessings of Teaching

When I hear the cry of “Mrs. Tracy! Mrs. Tracy!” when I step inside the church building and feel little hands flung around my waist in excitement? You see, there’s no exuberance or excitement quite like that of a little child.

When I am tugged by the energetic little hand of a student to come meet her people? You see, I am someone she wants to introduce to her mom or her grandpa.

When I feel a quiet hand slip into mine and I’m met with the quiet, content smile of a gentle soul, untouched by worldliness? You see, there’s a reason God told us to become like little children.

Bless my heart? I drew the short straw?

I get the most important, most weighty privilege in the universe–that of teaching minds and molding hearts to know and be like Jesus. Children still want to learn; they are not yet jaded by the world and its ways. They believe, they listen, they laugh–freely and beautifully.

Bless my heart? I drew the short straw?

I’m sorry, friend. I wasn’t unlucky. I don’t deserve that sympathy. Because I get to teach children’s Bible class. And I like it.

[B]ut Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

 

Matthew 19:14

 

When You’re in the Trenches

When You’re in the Trenches

When you’re in the trenches, it’s hard to see your way out. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel, because you’re not even sure there is a tunnel. It’s hard to keep slogging through and exhausting to keep your chin up. You feel as if you are covered in slime, in mud, in disappointment and despair.

Perhaps you might have lost hope or energy. You might understand in your mind that this is “worth” it, but your heart is weary and burdened.

When you’re in the trenches, you can’t see your progress or the character built. You can’t see the shape of your heart or the influence of your efforts.

What if:

  • Your heart turns out to be right?
  • You are in it alone?
  • After all this work, you don’t reach your goal?
  • Despite the prayers and the tears, you come out empty-hearted and empty-handed?

Reach out your hand, and grasp onto the Father’s hand. Grip it with determination and desperation. Cling to it with the last strength you have.

Realize that, despite what you see, what you feel, what you are suffering, you are only seeing a tiny part. Yours is a small corner and one that you see with a skewed view. Just because YOU cannot see, does not mean that there is nothing to be seen.

Sometimes–no, many times–trust must come before character is strengthened. Faith must come before reason and experience can explain “why.”

Take heart. Take courage. Take perspective.

Think of Elijah. After drought and hunger, persecution and hatred, he comes before God’s presence. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah cries out to God: “And I, even I only, am left and they seek my life to take it away.”

Then God reveals the bigger picture:

He would anoint a new king and put to death those who deserved it and the last words are the ones that must have stunned him.

“Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

You see, from Elijah’s perspective, in the trenches, he thought he was alone. And yet, there were 7,000 others standing with him.

I pray that God helps you to see over those trenches, to see over the horizon, to see that even if you feel you, like Elijah, are left alone–that you can see a bigger part of God’s plan. That just as God helped Elijah, He can help you too. You are not alone.

Thanking my Husband, Even Though He Does Things “Wrong”

Thanking my Husband, Even Though He Does Things “Wrong”

My husband is a man.

And as such, he does manly things.

He likes sports and to grill out, and he enjoys wrestling, throwing, swinging, and other very physical activities with my son. He is a provider and he is a leader, albeit sometimes a quiet one.

My husband has always been happy to do things around the house–but here is where things get a little hairy.

You see, he doesn’t do household things like a woman. He does them–well, the way that a man would.

I realize this may come as a shock. My husband does not load the dishwasher like I do. He does not fold and put away the laundry like I do. He doesn’t even clean the bathroom like I do.

Is there a “right” way to chop an onion?

Well, even if it’s not the way I would cut it, it will still flavor the soup and still be able to be chewed once we eat it.

Is there a “right” way to load the dishwasher?

Well, perhaps if you didn’t put soap in it, but otherwise, the dishes will still get clean. And isn’t that the point of a dishwasher?

Is there a “right” way to fold the laundry?

Well, as long as all of us get clean underwear and towels, wasn’t that the point?

It’s easy to get into the slump of “he didn’t do it my way.” But–maybe I didn’t do it his way. And you know what? He probably didn’t complain about it. He just accepted it because it’s who I am.

Sometimes, I think we lose sight of the big picture.

Is it more important to get help around the house? To share the burden of budgeting and finances? To let someone else take a turn watching the baby?

Because I guarantee you–it won’t be done exactly how YOU would have done it. And yet, if we let go of that control, of that “need” to have things done a certain way, we may find that our lives are richly blessed. We may find it easier, in fact, to follow 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Instead of, “Why did he load the dishes this way!” perhaps we can say, “Thank you, Lord, for giving me a husband who helps clean up supper!”

Instead of, “Why can’t he find a matching set of clothes to put on the baby!” perhaps we can say, “Thank you, Lord, for granting me time to rest while my husband made sure the baby is warm, clean, and dry.”

Instead of complaining, perhaps we can learn the not-so-easy-as-it-sounds task of saying “Thank you.” To God. To our families. To anyone around us.

And that may make all the difference.

 

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