I work with 10 and 11 year old girls in our church – creating activities for them a couple times of month after school. Hallie is in the group so basically I get an excuse to spend time with her and her friends. This week we were playing Halloween games. A fan favorite in our house is always Halloween Bingo; a set I picked up a couple years back from Target for Hallie’s Halloween Carnival Birthday party.
The girls enjoyed it. It never gets old putting candy corn on the spaces or yelling out bingo and claiming your prize.
After bingo, we went out on bikes for a Halloween scavenger hunt. I drove the neighborhood earlier in the day and made a note of the many decorations neighbors had put up. The girls then had to write the house number of where they found the decoration and they could only use a house number once. Originally, the girls were going to be on teams, but they decided it would be more fun to work as a group.
We drove up and down the neighborhood streets. Each time they found one, they’d squeal in excitement. They got most of them after one pass through. But there were a few they had to circle back to and even then, there was one decoration they rode by four times before realizing it – a bale of hay. I even explained at the beginning that bales of hay come in all sizes – but of course, the girls were looking for the large bales they’re used to sitting on, instead of the smaller ones used on porches as decor.
Scavenger hunts are pretty easy to organize and I was pleasantly surprised by how engaged they all were in finding everything. Its an activity we could duplicate with Christmas decorations. We finished the afternoon with caramel apples because nothing screams fall more than caramel apples!
Last week I shared Steve’s encounter with a good samaritan. Let me share another experience.
A couple weeks back, when we were out of town over Memorial Day weekend we attended another ward for church. We took several rows for Steve’s family and trying to keep our kids quiet with their cousins sitting next to them was a little difficult. I noticed a lady in the row across from us. She too had four rowdy boys with a little girl and she appeared to be pregnant. She was sitting alone.
As I glanced her direction I could see it in her face, she was struggling. I could see it because it was all too familiar to me. That has been me for several years as I sat alone and Steve sat on the stand. I didn’t want her to see me watching her, so I turned my gaze forward and would periodically glance her way. After 15 minutes of watching her, I finally whispered to Steve, “I think the lady over there is having a hard time.” He glanced over her direction as casually as he could and observed the same thing I had.
“Well, go over and help her then.”
I was paralyzed. Yes, I could feel her pain, but I didn’t know what I could do for her. We were in the middle of a speaker. Besides, I looked at the clock and realized I needed to feed Briggs shortly. So I stayed put.
I sat for a few more minutes, glancing in her direction, hoping her situation and demeanor would magically change. Steve noticed my glances. “Just go sit with her and help her with her kids.”
“She’ll think I’m crazy. I don’t want to embarrass her.”
“She’ll appreciate the help, just like you always appreciated help.”
I pretty much talked myself out of it. Until the speaker sat down and several men from the congregation stood to walk up and sing. I had butterflies in my stomach as I quickly stood up with the men and stepped across the aisle and shimmied into the small section left on her bench. “I have been in this same situation many times. Can I help you?”
With a sigh of relief shaking her head she said yes. I reached for the baby that was in her arms and she willingly handed him over. Instantly, the rowdy boys suddenly were calm as they eyed me up and down wondering why I crashed their party! There was no more wrestling or jumping. They sat still as can be as close to their mother as possible. The little girl cozied up to me and drew me a picture and the baby was okay with a stranger holding him.
After a while, my sister-in-law turned to give Briggs back to me to feed when she noticed I wasn’t there. I leaned towards the mother and apologized that I needed to leave to feed my baby. I grabbed Briggs and headed out and I as I walked out I could see my sister-in-law taking my seat with the young family.
After the meeting was over, I walked in from feeding and found Steve talking with my new friend. I learned that her husband’s job takes him away over half the time on Sundays. She had a faith building experience in which she realized the blessings that result in attending church so she faithfully brings her 5 (soon to be 6) kids every Sunday. It’s hard and tiring. Most the time she’s wondering why she does it. I could empathize with her on so many levels. I’ve been that mom on Sunday mornings sitting in the pew alone fighting back tears of frustration, wondering why being there even matters. But I knew it was important and I so I struggled.
I enjoyed talking with the mother. She expressed her gratitude, we hugged and said goodbye.
The crazy thing is I almost didn’t help her, in church of all places! The same place that teaches us to look out for and care for others. Partly because I was uncomfortable and partly because I in no way wanted to make her uncomfortable. We often look at situations and think – that’s too bad, but really what I can do about it. Those words went through my mind as I watched her. But Steve’s counsel was inspired. “Help her with her kids.” It was simple. It didn’t take much effort, just a little courage to step out of my comfort zone. It made me realize people are more willing to accept help than we might think.
It was a good reminder to not only notice people in need but to extend a helping hand. What can you do to help someone today?
Steve and I (and Briggs) were able to escape some of the heat this weekend when we attended Youth Conference for our church up in the mountains. We had the. Best. Time. I’m still having a hard time processing and expressing all that I felt and learned and experienced. It was that good. I’ve got hundreds of pictures showing what we did, but they still fall short in depicting how I felt. Steve and I have found ourselves talking about the weekend over and over again.
And just when I think we’ve exhausted all conversation regarding Youth Conference, we find another nugget to discuss and reminisce on. Even today at church, our youth conference was the topic of discussion and all the kids shared their feelings and what they learned.
Here’s just a little teaser of many photos to come. As you can see, although we escaped the heat – we were still toasty in layers of heavy clothing!
Did I mention we had a good time?! Part of it was the experience – but part of it was only having to worry about one child. It was energizing!
We spent the weekend in pajamas, on the couch watching “Church on TV” as it was referred to when I was a kid. We watch talks both Saturday and Sunday for several hours and I always walk away feeling renewed. Some talks offer poignant stories, others offer instruction. There are always a couple talks that stand out at the close of the weekend – one in particular this weekend spoke of fathers.
Listening to D. Todd Christofferson speak of fathers and how they are often overlooked or not given enough credit, I was overcome with gratitude for both my father as well as the father of my children. I’ve praised my dad several times on this blog as he is always willing to help me with my projects. He is amazing and I’m grateful for him and is dedication to fatherhood. Part of my appreciation for my father comes from watching Steve be a father.
Steve doesn’t really like a whole lot of facetime on the blog – he’s more of a behind the scenes kind of guy. But let me tell you – he takes his role as a father seriously and I love him for it. He is always putting the needs of us before himself. I remember when he was working full-time, going to school and had a hefty church responsibility – he would come home with what little time and energy he had and he would give everything to our kids for the short time that they were still awake. He wrestled, played football, gave horsey rides and read books. I bet if you asked our kids – the only complaint they would have during that time period would be the lack of Saturday morning pancakes (which is Steve’s specialty) due to his testing schedule. They have no clue that because he dedicated the hour and a half to playing with them that it extended his day doing homework late into the night.
I’m reminded with each child’s birth just how important it is to him to being there and being present; not just for the kids but more importantly for me. He’s fiercely dedicated and he’s humble – how’s that for attractive! 🙂 Watching him interact with our kids is just the cherry on top.
We’ve spent the last year attending church at 8:30am and it was not always fun. Steve left early for meetings which meant I got the kids ready for church on my own. At 8 o’clock, Steve would come home from meetings and take the four kids to church. This left me 10-15 minutes to get dressed and finish getting ready and meet them at church where I would sit with the kids by myself. Sunday mornings were nothing short of exhausting.
But a new year, means a new time to attend church (every year at the beginning of the year we rotate to a different time) and now church starts at noon. This may not seem like a big deal but let me tell you, it’s a game changer. Steve’s around more in the mornings before heading off to meetings and although I still sit alone (I do sit by some fantastic families who help me out) the later time makes a world of difference. Not to mention 8:30 church on my own with a new baby might have done me in!