There were definitely times when I wondered if I'd ever find church remotely enjoyable again. For many years, church was mostly about trying to keep a bunch of very small children sort of quiet by frantically passing out toys and snacks to toddlers and preschoolers while bouncing a fussy baby on my lap. I was lucky if I was able to catch maybe one tiny idea from the speakers while trying to quietly conduct my own three ring circus in the pew.
But now church is one of the most enjoyable parts of my week. After 11 years of struggling and training and trying and failing, the payoff is oh-so sweet. I love sitting with Jared's arm around me and the twins nestled on our laps for parts of the meeting. I love having one of the kids always snuggled up against my non-Jared side. I love playing with Eliza's curls and reaching over to give Ashton a little squeeze on the shoulder and seeing him smile at me. I love looking over to see the kids quietly looking through the hymn book or the scriptures or reading articles in the Friend magazine (a few old copies is all we need to bring in our once-bursting church bag these days). I love holding hands with whoever is beside me and giving that hand three squeezes - I - love - you - and then getting four squeezes back - I - love - you - too. I love seeing the kids find the right pages in the hymn books and singing their very best on all the songs (even the twins can read all the words now and sing along pretty decently - I think following the words with their fingers in church every week from the time they were small actually really helped them learn to read). I love being able to take notes on talks and record what the spirit is telling me during the meeting (impossible for years with the squirming babies). I love whispering a favorite story about Jesus in one of the kid's ear while the sacrament is passed. I love peeking during a prayer and seeing the sweet bowed heads and folded arms of my dear children who love Jesus.
I really wondered if the day would ever arrive where I could use "love" and "kids" and "church" in the same sentence. We still have our hard Sunday when the twins are making loud-ish folding noises and then loud-ish swooshing noises as they fold the church programs into airplanes and wave them around in the air, occasionally letting one actually fly "by accident" or when the big kids keep poking and pinching each other or when everyone wants the same magazine at the same time. But mostly, church is about quiet together time these days. And on Sundays like today, I love it with all my heart.