My Wild Children in the Pew


I’ve been too busy the last couple of days to finish the History of Women and Work article, but we’re off to Wisconsin Dells to shake off the winter blues and spend a couple of days swimming, so I’ll have some time to write when the little boys are napping in the hotel room this weekend.

In the meantime, this is a post I wrote almost four years ago. I thought I’d drag it out from the dusty archives and breathe new life into it in hopes of encouraging some young thing out there who is sweating because she and her wiggly worms are sitting behind the “perfect family” at church. You know who you are. Here we go:

I must confess. I have a large family, BUT my kids do not sit quietly in a row looking perfect and beautiful. We are loud. All of us. Well. There is one boy in the middle who is kind of quiet, but for the most part we sing loud, we laugh loud, we yell loud, and everything is dramatic and emotional. It’s messy.

We have one child with Aspergers Syndrome, two with Tourette’s Syndrome, one with “dis-fluency of speech” syndrome, one with “some mystery-that-we-are-still-trying-to-figure-out-but-that-is-giving-me-ulcers” syndrome, and all the rest of us have your garden variety “sin-syndrome” which is a real pain in the neck all by itself.

Today was John Piper’s first Sunday back after an 8 month leave of absence. It’s historic. He’s like Jonathan Edwards in my mind. I mean, future history books will mention this event, right? We were late to church, as usual, and there was no place for a family of 10 to sit—except the front row.

At first I panicked, because our usual pew is WAAAYYYY up in the nose-bleeder section, but then I remembered with relief that John Piper was preaching live at the north campus, and we go to the south campus—so all was well. Piper on video can’t see the frozen solid hair of my 7-year-old who took her shower right before we ventured out into the zero degree morning—or her constant kicking, swinging, moving, loud, enthusiastic Bible-page-turning antics. (Did you ever read Ramona the Pest when you were growing up?)

But as we all filed in and took our conspicuous places, I noticed that Piper was sitting—live in the flesh—in the front row a bit down from us, and I could feel that familiar pain in my stomach start to gnaw away.

Sure enough, the 5 and 7-year-old were in their usual form, which is to say, they never once stopped moving, and I think I motioned violently for them to be quiet at least 79 times that hour. In spite of all the stress, I was able to hear the message, and it was this: in the ordinariness (messiness) of life, make hallowed the Name of Christ. That is what it is all about. He is everything. Eyes on Him. Worship Him in and through it all.

So in the middle of the messy, stressful morning (ordinary, for me)—I saw Jesus high and lifted up. I saw Him on His throne. And He was smiling. And I loved Him (as much as a pathetic sinner can). I’m just a wiggly worm mom sitting with my wiggly worm kids—all of us with problems and issues. But Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer, will always be the same—great and glorious and so much more. So I revel in that, and I am at peace.

Natalie Klejwa is a Wemmick, loved by the Woodcarver, wife of 22 years to Joe, and mother to 9 Wemmicks ages 2-20. She is a business owner (Apple Valley Natural Soap), founder and administrator of the Visionary Womanhood blog, publisher and contributing author of Three Decades of Fertility, You Can Do it Too! 25 Families Share Their Stories, and The Heart of Simplicity: Foundations for Christian Homemaking.

You can hear her being interviewed on Kevin Swanson's Generations with Vision radio program.

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6 thoughts on “My Wild Children in the Pew

  1. Your family sounds like mine. I think we can be our own worse critics, though. We always sit in the very last pew, in case we ever need to make a quick exit. A few weeks ago, a woman who’s husband is an usher stopped me to tell me that her husband always comments about how well behaved my children are during church. Really? This is the man who sits at the back of the church, RIGHT BEHIND US? I think that sometimes with TV shows, like the Duggars (who I adore, and they actually played a video question from me on one of their episodes), who have seemingly perfect children, we can sometimes place unrealistic expectations on our own families. It’s nice when other people unintentionally point that out to us.

  2. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about the pastor giving me the evil eye during church because of my kids (my husband’s the pastor!). But I do have to manage to keep everyone under control all by my lonesome…which is no simple task. I’ve learned to give myself some grace in this area!

    • Oh, I know all about managing the kids by yourself. My husband isn’t a believer, so I take ten of our kids to church by myself every week. Aaaah! Seriously, though, I do have my 12 and 14 year old daughters to help a little, although recently, the twelve year old has started sitting in the front by herself so she can pay attention and tae notes. My 13 year old son is sometimes as bad as the little ones (ADHD), so we won’t go there!

  3. Thank you so much for this. After talking to my husband, we are taking a holiday here at home too. As my DS8 said “Woohoo, 9 days without school!!” So yeah, we are putting the books aka computers away and the stress too.

    As for your post, I always remind myself, when my kids are being ever so wiggly, of a comment I received one time ” It just makes my day when I see your little girls dancing up front.” Oh yeah, we got a lively worship and sometimes the little girls think they are ballerinas and worship in dance and all. I love it but I do worry about we being a little bit too emotional, loud and disturbing to the rest of church. Oh, well, who cares? It’s all for Jesus!

  4. In the last few months I realized that I have often resented my children for interrupting my “worship” on Sunday morning. The Holy Spirit convicted my heart when I realized that often my spiritual act of worship in this stage of life will be helping our kids learn how pay attention, listen and be respectful during the service. My gentle and quiet spirit amidst the distractions will serve as an example of worship much more than my raised hands.