Preparing for Sunday Worship

In the article Remember the Sabbath Day, to Keep It Holy I gave reasons for setting a day apart to remember God.
But how do you set a day apart?
It is with GREAT EFFORT.
The key is Preparation.
Prepare the house.

Saturday was our work day. We cleaned the house (bathrooms, bedrooms, jobs that couldn’t get down through the week), then worked in the yard or barn. Recently it has shifted to include whatever the projects the boys have (moving cows to different pastures, helping others).

During baseball season, the house was a wreck as we run to practice and games, hurry through meals eaten at odd times, so Saturdays were lost to cleaning. I’ve learned to look over a lot of dirt and clutter in order to feel rested for Sunday.

Prepare the meals.
On Saturday I made two meals: one for Saturday and one for Sunday. Usually Mexican, so it wasn’t a lot of extra. Make two big pots of beans and rice and supplement the main dish. Enchiladas one meal; tacos the next.

Prepare your attitude.
Most of my struggle with Sunday is my attitude. It’s amazing how just trying to give a day to God will bring trouble after trouble, from outside and inside.

If Joey and I didn’t commit to be at church, I could find any excuse not to go. Making it a habit to be there was work. Being ready to worship was also work.

Why? Getting all of us dressed and ready to go at 8:30 AM was a miracle on a GOOD day. Satan works harder on Sundays to make problems happen. After yelling at the boys all morning, I wondered how much worshiping erally happened. But just like being there was a habit, so getting there with the intention to worship was what we did. The good attitude does come—sometimes. And God does speak in spite of the turmoil inside me.

As a mom of babies and toddlers, I had a special bag of quiet toys and snacks just for church. When those didn't succeed in keeping a quiet child, I walked them in the hall. My husband helped with the toddlers. But I tried to allow him to focus on the sermon, since he would lead his family through the week.

Because I valued developing security in my children, I didn’t use the church nursery, unless I stayed with them. People didn’t understand my “possessiveness.” I went to my toddler’s Sunday School class with him, until the teacher gave me the book and told me to teach. (My son was the only student.) It was not that someone else couldn’t help, it was that my children knew me. (I’ve seen where communities and families helped to give the mom a break, but that wasn’t an option for me. We lived too isolated and family was far away. We also never left them with babysitters until the boys were older.) I often felt alone, even at church. I reminded myself of our chosen priorities and that “this too will pass.” (And it does.)

When we came home from church (a 45 minute drive), everyone was hungry. I pre-cooked everything prior to leaving in the morning, (another reason why the morning was hectic) then rewarmed it when we returned.

Now with less energy, I don't stress over the idea of “Sunday Meal” which in my childhood was the biggest meal of the week. It seems just a necessary meal to get us all toward nap time. I minimize, reminding myself “simple is better than exhausted.” I use paper plates to minimize clean up.

Since the boys don’t do their normal chores on Sunday, we have everyone clean their own dishes and clear the table. Even small children can put away things. Then I don't have to do all of it. I soak pans for after naptime. Sometimes Joey or one of the boys wash them before I wake up. (Yea!)

Sunday is quiet day.
We plan for naps. When the children were small, they’d lie on a quilt to give boundaries. We’d read to them. This quieted and calmed them. Often times, Joey would take them outside, so I could rest with the nursing baby.

After my article on Sabbath, Joey requested that I didn’t do laundry on Sundays. (Maybe he shouldn’t be reading my articles.) That lasted a short while. With five loads per day, I could never catch up if I didn’t. I wash their good clothes separate from their work clothes (stickers in all our clothes is not comfortable.) Sorting laundry is a mindless job for me, maybe that is why the boys get the wrong clothes most of the time...but that is for another article.

Early in our marriage, Joey wasn’t use to a big dinner at lunchtime. He thought we should have another meal in the evening, so I ended up making two dinners on Sunday (not restful for me.) I would make the second meal a one-pot meal, like hamburger helper (with extra noodles and water to make it stretch and no meat, to make it cheaper). Now with the boys coming and going, and no one really home to eat another meal, it’s self-serve left-overs or popcorn.

When the boys were small, Joey played frisbee or football in the late afternoon. We read to the boys. We sing. It was a family time.
If I didn’t play, I’d watch or be making the second dinner.

When Joey’s at army drill (Sundays are extra-extra long without him), I allow the boys to watch a DVD from our assortment of old movies, telling them “Anything but stupid movies.” (I can’t re-hear all the stupid things the Marx Brothers have done to each other.)

At one point, our church had AWANA on Sunday evenings. So after driving for Sunday School and church, we drove back down for AWANA. It was hard with babies and toddlers. But I reminded myself of the Word they memorized at a young age would come back later when they needed it. Again, try not to look at the inconveniences, problems, extra work on other days, focus on rest for this one day for God.

Now, we often invite others over for dinner after church. It seems that’s the only time all of the boys can sit around the table together---if we prearrange it. Again, I keep it simple. (Because I do dishes, and Sunday is my rest day.)

The boys have come to use this day as rest. Even my one son who serves all week will slow down and make sure he gets a nap on Sunday.

I prepare as much as I can before Sunday, but what I don’t get done, I’ve learned to let go.
Yes, on Mondays, the house is a wreck. There are dishes piled from the popcorn or pans. But I’ve rested and it’s not so overwhelming (usually.)
I must remind myself "It’s not a work day.  Slow down. Rest and set things aside to give God worship."

It seems a paradox to say you must work at resting, but as a mom, that is what I must do.

When one old-time preacher was asked, “What would he do differently if he knew Jesus would return on that Sunday?” His answer, “After preaching, and eating, I will sit in my favorite chair and take a nap.”
When asked, “Wouldn’t you witness to family who don’t know God?”
He answered, “I live my life to be ready for Jesus. This day is not a catch up for what I should have done all week. It’s a day to be with God.”

And so, another Sunday comes. How will you prepare? What rest will you find? How will you worship?
When you work to worship, you will find God meets you where you are, and tells you what you need to know for that day.

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I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
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I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
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               Sonya Contreras

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Tell of My Kingdom's Glory
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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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