Nathalie's Notes

Raising the Hardy Boys

Heaven help us

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register



I recently found a new way to be mortified as a mother: I took the boys to church.

They acted like they’d never seen the inside of one before. And to be fair, that wasn’t far off the mark.

I embarrassed us first, as we stood in line to register for Vacation Bible School.

"So they stay until noon?" I asked. The nice ladies nodded. "And I just, like, leave?" Again, they nodded.

"Wow!" I blurted out. "If Vacation Bible School doesn’t make a believer out of someone, I don’t know what would."

I think it may have came off the wrong way, as silence descended as I ushered my confused children into the church.

Once inside, Jake loudly asked, "So, who exactly is Jesus again?"

On the way home that morning, Sam cheerfully told me what he had learned.

"Oh, also, mom. You told me God is all things, right? Well, I said that God is in my boogers and the teacher said, ‘No.’ So you’re wrong about that."

Why, God, why? Why did my child decide to say "boogers" instead of something beautiful and poetic?

Oh, right. This is real life.

In real life, if you decide you want to become part of a church family, you have to jump in somewhere. And it’s going to be a little bit awkward at first perhaps.

OK, if you’re us, that’s a given. But if you’re feeling drawn to check out the whole going to church thing, you should understand it is a come as you are kind of endeavor. If you don’t feel welcome after a few visits, go somewhere else.

It took me a couple decades to do exactly that. I’d encourage others to get there faster.

Of course, I’m not here to tell people what to do. I’m just sharing what’s working in my far-from-perfect life.

In this life, my children manage to get their pants dirty walking the three blocks to church and turn the little, wooden crosses they made inside the church into guns on the front lawn afterward. I thought would be terribly awkward, considering we’d settled on a Friends church, but instead, people were actually quite understanding.

In fact, people have been so awesome, it’s made me wish I hadn’t missed out on so many years of church. So far, the only thing I don’t like is the part about how it’s in the morning.

Too often, I experience the incongruous combination of staying up until wee hours watching the debauchery on House of Cards, then rolling out of bed a few hours later for church.

But, despite the morning issue, I love the connections and friendships we’re making as well as growing in our faith as a family.

I like knowing that all of my questions are tolerated, even welcomed. And no one acts as if he has all the answers, or as if that’s even possible.

Plus, there’s been some comic relief.

When we first started going to church, Jake began praying every night, with his stuffed Zebra tucked into his little folded hands.

"Dear God, please turn my zebra into a real one," he’d say. Then he’d open his eyes super fast to see if it happened.

So far, no such luck.

One rainy morning, Jake insisted on wearing sandals so he could be more like Jesus. I pointed out that it was raining.

His older brother countered with the story he heard about Jesus walking on water. I made a note to sign them up for another round of swim lessons, just in case.

On his first day of Sunday school, Sam learned about Job’s trials. They are detailed in the Book of Job, once praised by Alfred Lord Tennyson as "the greatest poem of ancient and modern times."

My 6-year-old summarized it this way: "We learned about how God killed all of Job’s family and friends. Don’t freak out, mom, it’s OK. God made him all new ones."

Needless to say, we’ve had plenty of interesting, clarifying conversations, one of them devoted to reassuring Sam that Job’s story didn’t break down quite the way he described it.

We also learned from Jake recently that he took us literally when we told him God was always with him.

When asked why he took off from the soccer field to the parking lot by himself, he said he was going to return to the very last place he saw me.

His dad told him we were worried, and that he couldn’t go off all by himself like that. He assured us that he wasn’t alone because: "Remember? You told me I’m never alone because God is always with me!"

That reminds me that life is full of misunderstandings, and that even though we all get a little lost sometimes, it’s encouraging to know there is more than one road leading to home.

I trust each of us will know when we’ve arrived. We think we do. For our family, gathering at church on Sunday morning feels like coming home.

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