April 18, 2007

A Finger Or A Toe

I run the nursery at our small church. Well, our small church is actually a branch of a much larger church. When they announced they were starting up the new smaller church, I felt led to offer myself as the nursery person. And that's what I've been since last fall, pretty much. The lone nursery person.

I knew that, until we got a larger attendance, I wouldn't be able to recruit any workers for a while. My Mom and Mother-in-law help out often so that I can be a part of church service upstairs a couple times a month. And usually Gray is the only baby anyway. Sometimes there's a couple other little ones on Sunday mornings.

But on Wednesday nights, it's just me & Gray. I don't mind- because he really loves all the toys and everything in there and I like the peace. I'll play a soft worship CD and sometimes even knit while Gray plays with the kitchen set. I'll admit that week after week when it's just me serving in there with just my child, I am tempted to miss a service here & there. Because really- who would notice? The nursery is downstairs and sometimes I don't even get the chance to go upstairs to see anyone else, really. They might not even know I'm there.


The church and everyone in it is a body. And as we serve, whether it be doing the smallest of things, it's like the pinky toe or finger of the body. And I don't know about you, but I think I'd feel it if my toe or finger went missing on me. Or have you ever just had an ingrown toenail on your little toe? Or stub it on the corner of something? How in the world can something so tiny be so important and feel soooooo much pain?

In my church, I am that toe. Last night as I sat in the nursery, all three boys were with me as Noah & Carter's teacher was running late. I had the fleeting thought to just go on home. I had some shopping I could still get done if we left right away. But then I didn't want the boys to miss out on their lesson and it would be a short service anyway. Off to class my older boys went and -to my surprise- a baby was at the nursery window!

A six-month old baby girl- a rotund little bundle of pure goodness, I tell you! I was giddy! The dad was clearly unsure at first if he even wanted to leave her. She usually cries, he said. But she was so happy to see me and I took her right out of his arms and daddy was on his way. How could I forget that this was Gray, just 1 year ago?? The perfect stage- just sitting up and shoving everything into her gummy mouth. Oohing and ahhing and slobbering. Happy to just look at the funny faces I'd make. Gray was so excited to have someone to perform in front of! He would run to & fro, grabbing a baby doll or ball to give the baby. Then he'd crouch down and tilt his head, look at the baby, and pet her head. Then off to find another toy. Then pet the head again. It was adorable. We sat on the floor playing the entire time.

After service was over, the baby's mom & dad were so thankful she stayed in the nursery the whole time. Usually they had to miss part of service with her. We chatted and, although I was the one that served and gave of myself that night, I was so filled up. Well, then. I am glad to be a toe!

Image: baby feet

24 comments:

  1. The experiences that you describe I think are very common in a small church. I was raised in a small church and a lot of times there wouldn't be anyway volunteering for certain things... like nursery or children's classes. Sometimes when a teacher wanted to take a break, she couldn't find anyone....no one wanted to take her place. Isn't that awful?! I thank God that your church has you... I know how it feels to be in nursery. You feel distant and out of touch with the congregation, sometimes. Keep it up! I'm glad you were able to receive encouragement on Wednesday! Who knows what the couple got out of the service! They might have really needed to hear the lesson! God bless! and Good luck!

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  2. Wow, I like the fact that North-American churches have things like nurseries and children's classes. That is so great. Such things hardly exist in Belgium.

    Mind you we attend church usually in those very old gothic (medieval) historic churches with really no physical rooms or basements or ... for such things are nurseries or classes. So parents need to bring their children along, alternate church visit, have a babysit....or not go to church at all. Usually the last option happens I fear.

    Then again, with average age for church attendance being very high here and the average hair color being grey and white...I assume there is not much need for nurseries unfortunately :(. But then...what is cause and what is the result. It could be a great initiative and incentive for young parents, right?


    Children's classes do not exist either, except for mandatory preparation sessions for their communion. Other than that, 80% of all schools in Belgium are catholic schools that teach 2 hours per week "religion". Since not 80% of the Belgian population is religious anymore, many atheist children still attend catholic schools as they are considered better quality. And as a result, the religion classes get often diluted to a very general "moral" class.
    Did you know that even in non-catholic state schools, children mandatory have to take 2 hours of religion per week (catholicism, protestantism, islam or jewish practise) or 2 hours of "moral teachings" instead. That's not too bad.

    Anyway, I think it's great that you do the nursery at your church to enable young parents to attend the service!! Good job.

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  3. Thank you for sharing that post...it is so heartwarming to know there are many fingers and toes out there...sometimes we (other fingers and toes) forget how important the other extremeties are!! You are a blessing!
    Tamara

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  4. Cute! That is so great that you got to serve that way. BUT. This sends up red flags to me. We have a very small church, but no one would be expected to serve in the nursery every week. You aren't getting to attend worship at all???? Steph, surely there can be some sort of rotation, even just three or four women???

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  5. I love this post! It reminds all of us how important the total body of Christ is -- even the parts that seem insignificant. :)

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  6. Great post! I serve in a more visible way- in the worship band- it's easy for us eyes and noses to forget about the fingers and toes. Thanks! :)

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  7. Emerson hates being left in the nursery. But if you were the person I was leaving her with, I'm sure she would be happy to stay :) I know you were an encouragement to that couple. Thanks for sharing this.

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  8. Another nursery worker in a small church...that is me too!! We have a VERY small church and I run the children's dept., which currently consists of 3 children. So small and when the 3 said children do not show up, it can be quite discouraging. But I do know what you are saying about no one even noticing if you were there or not b/c most Sunday evenings(that is when we meet) I feel that way! Nice to know I'm not the only one going through this. =)
    By the way, I linked over to you from Sara(walkslowlylivewildly.blogspot.com)& I am really enjoying your posts!
    Angela

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  9. Overall, the toes are a pretty important part of the whole body so I'd say being a toe is pretty special.

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  10. None of my boys would ever stay in the nursery without me. But I bet Carter would stay with you. And having Gray there with him would definitly work. He'd love watching him run around. And pat his head! :)

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  11. Nursery is one of the most essential parts of a church. Great ministry. Good post.

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  12. You're the best toe I've ever known! Ok, so I'm TERRIFIED to leave X in our church nursery, not because of who's there, but because well, you know. You've made me rethink things a bit... not that I'd leave X in there now :), but that's it's such an important aspect of the church as well!

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  13. I'm so glad you posted on this topic. I've had a similar experience. I do not leave our 19 mos. old in the nursery yet, so I stay in there and volunteer. I'm the only one in our church, pretty much, who operates this way and people think I'm crazy!!! I just cannot leave him crying. We even have separation issues with out 4 yr. old. So, lately I've been wondering why even go? It's been a waste of time really. Except that Zoe goes to her class. John and I are in classes with the 2 boys. We are not sure what to do. It seems like we've been in this stage for 4 years now, ever since Xander was born. Zoe loved the nursery, even though I had a hard time leaving her and had to check on her at least 3 times during a service. LOL! Also, Xander is the only 4 yr. old right now, so they discontinued his class. They want him to go into the 2/3 yr. old class. Xander refuses b/c he thinks it's a baby class. He screams, kicks, totally freaks out even when we stay with him!! I talked to the CM Dir. and she pretty much said he had to and he couldn't join his sister in the 5 yr. old class even though he does great in there...I've even talked to the Pastor and he backed her. I don't feel they are being sensitive to our family's needs. I've been kinda hurt, and torn b/w church attendance and my children's needs. Any advice?

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  14. What a beautiful story. I've been afraid to leave d in the nursery, but now I might be a bit more brave. She's getting awfully wiggly these days. By the way, I tagged you for something.

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  15. What a wonderful perspective. I think we all need to be reminded once in a while that every little bit of help we can give makes a big difference.

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  16. You're not a toe in my opinion! You're the first one to show the love and the body of Christ to the that little girl!! If Jesus said that someone who leads a little one astray should tie a millstone around his neck and be drowned in the ocean...what kind of esteem and reward does He have for those who welcome and love the littlest of His children? Thank you for serving in the nursery! And what a beautiful post!

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  17. Well, I have very long toes & I'm sure I'd just tip right on over if I lost one! So, I think they're pretty darn important.

    HH & I have only recently found a new church home after many many months of looking (both before & after Wog was born). The nursery was the first & foremost important thing for us. If they were not good w/ the baby or unfriendly to us (as was the case more times than I care to mention), then "next, please"!

    What you are doing is a wonderful ministry!!!

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  18. God bless you for being the nursery teacher! The Sunday School teacher at our church finally had to stand up pre-service and ask for other volunteers because she really wanted to attend service once in a while. (and yes, I do teach Sunday School sometimes now.)

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  19. I think there must be a special place in heaven for nursery workers! ;)

    And I think I must be the skin underneath the pinkey toenail....

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  20. This is so sweet! I'm glad that God is able to use you for such good! This is a great reminder that I know is good for me to hear.

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  21. Beautiful picture, beautiful post, as always. What a wonderful congregation you have found to be a part of. They are lucky to have you.

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  22. I like the roll of the toe. As sometimes, being part of the head, I like that the toe is rarely seen. Most people don't even think about the little toe but in fact, it provides balance to the whole body!

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  23. It can be difficult to be a toe. I'm sure those parents were so thankful you were one that night!

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  24. It can be difficult to be a toe. I'm sure those parents were so thankful you were one that night!

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