Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

That kid in church this morning was mine.  

You know the one—sprawled out on the floor, throwing toys, talking 17 octaves above a whisper, pacing up and down the pews like a rabid dog.

Yes . . . THAT one.

And I am sure you also know how easily and freely the judgment flows when one of Heaven’s tiny blessings is distracting you from the Gospel every 30 seconds.

Why don’t they discipline that child?
Why don’t they take her into the cry room?
Why don’t they respect everyone else’s time of worship?

 It’s OK. You can be honest because I have often wondered myself.  

Last week I drove by our church to check the marquee for information about masses reopening. To my surprise, my 2-year-old instantly recognized where we were and began squealing, “Jesus! I see Jesus!” So today when we walked into Mass, I felt joyful in knowing we were finally returning to our spiritual home with a renewed sense of peace and hope. I was thrilled to be back in His holy presence.   

RELATED: What if it Feels Different When We Go Back To Church?

While my heart knows He was undoubtedly present, the only two things I felt certain of encountering were an out-of-routine toddler and many—so many—glaring eyeballs.

Initially, the idea of a smaller congregation seemed comforting. Yet within seconds of realizing that I had grossly underestimated how challenging it would be to remind my young daughter of church etiquette and behavioral expectations, the intimacy became suffocating.

I was a momma expecting joy, peace, and hope, but found instead shame, struggle, and defeat. I cried myself right up to Communion.

But we came to church today. For the first time in three months, when so many of our seats remain empty, we came. We showed up.

RELATED: Go To Church Even When You Feel Undone

I am sorry you were distracted. I was, too. But just as I wished for grace this morning, I have to be willing to extend it to my child as well. She is two, plain and simple. She did the best she could. And, if it will make you feel better, I can answer all those “Why don’t they . . .” questions:

  • We discipline our child, we do. But please understand that before COVID-19, a few coloring sheets and a snack were enough to keep her engaged. I packed those things today, but they were not enough.
  • We do not take our child to the cry room because we believe in the beauty and power of her actively participating in the Mass with us not only as a family but as an integral member of the Body of Christ. And also because when I began gathering our things to leave altogether, Father Anguiano stopped right in the middle of his homily to look me dead in the eyes and affirm, “It is OK that she’s here and making noise. It’s OK.” (A gift I so desperately needed at that moment.)
  • We do respect other’s time of worship, INCLUDING HERS. Yes, she was loud, noisy, and somewhat obnoxious, but if you truly listened to all her gibber gabber, you would have caught bite-sized snippets of her faith too, like when she made the Sign of the Cross for the first time, or sang “Amen!” a few seconds too soon, or called out Jesus’s name when she saw the chalice being raised.

So please, for the next few months be patient of the families with young children returning to church.

RELATED: I Don’t Want To Raise Church Kids, I Want To Raise Jesus Kids

Extend some grace and a few extra smiles. Offer to help or offer up a silent prayer, whichever is most comfortable to you. But whatever you decide, remember we parents are trying our best—unruly children and all—to raise up the next generation of Saints and disciples the best we know how . . . IN the church (Luke 18:6).

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Alyssa Hall

Alyssa is just a wife and momma trying to slow life down, focus on what really matters, and get her people to heaven. Pull up a rocking chair and visit awhile at www.HappilyHall.com!

This Will Not Last Forever

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman looking at sunset

“This will not last forever,” I wrote those words on the unfinished walls above my daughter’s changing table. For some reason, it got very tiring to change her diapers. Nearly three years later, the words are still there though the changing table no longer is under them. While my house is still unfinished so I occasionally see those words, that stage of changing diapers for her has moved on. She did grow up, and I got a break. Now I do it for her baby brother. I have been reminding myself of the seasons of life again. Everything comes and...

Keep Reading

God Calls Me Flawless

In: Faith, Living
Note hanging on door, color photo

When I look in the mirror, I don’t always like what I see. I tend to focus on every imperfection, every flaw. As I age, more wrinkles naturally appear. And I’ve never been high maintenance, so the gray hairs are becoming more frequent, too. Growing up a lot of negative words were spoken about me: my body, my weight, my hair, my build. Words I’ve somehow carried my whole life. The people who proclaimed them as my truth don’t even remember what they said, I’m sure. But that’s the power of negative words. Sticks and stones may break our bones,...

Keep Reading

Your Husband Needs Friendship Too

In: Faith, Friendship, Marriage
3 men smiling outside

As the clock inches closer to 7:00 on a Monday evening, I pull out whatever dessert I had prepared that week and set it out on the kitchen counter. This particular week it’s a trifle, but other weeks it may be brownies, pound cake, or cookies of some kind. My eyes do one last sweep to make sure there isn’t a tripping hazard disguised as a dog toy on the floor and that the leftover dinner is put away. Then, my kids and I make ourselves scarce. Sometimes that involves library runs or gym visits, but it mostly looks like...

Keep Reading

This Is Why Moms Ask for Experience Gifts

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter under Christmas lights wearing red sweaters

When a mama asks for experience gifts for her kids for Christmas, please don’t take it as she’s ungrateful or a Scrooge. She appreciates the love her children get, she really does. But she’s tired. She’s tired of the endless number of toys that sit in the bottom of a toy bin and never see the light of day. She’s tired of tripping over the hundreds of LEGOs and reminding her son to pick them up so the baby doesn’t find them and choke. She’s tired of having four Elsa dolls (we have baby Elsa, Barbie Elsa, a mini Elsa,...

Keep Reading

When You Just Don’t Feel Like Christmas

In: Faith, Living
Woman sad looking out a winter window

It’s hard to admit, but some years I have to force myself to decorate for Christmas. Some years the lights look a little dimmer. The garlands feel a bit heavier. And the circumstances of life just aren’t wrapped in a big red bow like I so wish they were. Then comparison creeps in like a fake Facebook friend and I just feel like hiding under the covers and skipping it all. Because I know there’s no way to measure up to the perfect life “out there.” And it all just feels heavier than it used to. Though I feel alone,...

Keep Reading

When Your Kids Ask, “Where Is God?”

In: Faith, Kids
Child looking at sunset

How do I know if the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice? When I was in high school, I found myself asking this question. My dad was a pastor, and I was feeling called to ministry. I didn’t know if I was just hearing my dad’s wish or the call of God. I was worried I was confusing the two. It turns out, I did know. I knew because I was raised to recognize the presence of God all around me. Once I knew what God’s presence felt like, I also knew what God’s voice sounded like. There is a...

Keep Reading

To the Woman Longing to Become a Mother

In: Faith, Grief, Motherhood
Woman looking at pregnancy test with hand on her head and sad expression

To the woman who is struggling with infertility. To the woman who is staring at another pregnancy test with your flashlight or holding it up in the light, praying so hard that there will be even the faintest line. To the woman whose period showed up right on time. To the woman who is just ready to quit. I don’t know the details of your story. I don’t know what doctors have told you. I don’t know how long you have been trying. I don’t know how many tears you have shed. I don’t know if you have lost a...

Keep Reading

I Was There to Walk My Mother to Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Hand holding older woman's hand

I prayed to see my momma die. Please don’t click away yet or judge me harshly after five seconds. I prayed to see, to experience, to be in the room, to be a part of every last millisecond of my momma’s final days, final hours, and final moments here on Earth. You see, as a wife of a military man, I have always lived away from my family. I have missed many birthdays, celebrations, dinners, and important things. But my heart couldn’t miss this important moment. I live 12 hours away from the room in the house where my momma...

Keep Reading

God Sent Me to You

In: Faith, Motherhood
Newborn gazing at mother with father smiling down

I was a little unsure As I left God’s warm embrace: What will it be like? What challenges will I face? There were so many questions Running through my mind. I asked around for the answers I was hoping to find. Who will hold me And cuddle me tight? Who will rock me To sleep at night? RELATED: The Newborn Nights Feel As Endless As My Love For You Who will comfort me When I’ve had a rough day? Who will be there To take my worries away? Who will nourish me And make sure I grow? Who will read...

Keep Reading

Addiction Doesn’t Get the Final Say Over My Son

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman praying with head bowed

She is so tired. It is a kind of tired that no amount of sleep or rest can alleviate. It is a kind of tired that surpasses physical and even mental fatigue. It is a tiredness of soul—a tiredness that comes from wondering, and grieving, and not knowing how to save her son from the drugs the enemy has bound him up in. She kneels alone on the floor in her bedroom closet. This is where she came when the fear and the uncertainty and the panic started to creep into her heart again. She came here to pray, though...

Keep Reading