Several weeks ago we visited the church that Marie attends because the youth group was leading the service, which included Marie playing the violin with the youth band. We also enjoy chatting with people we don't otherwise get to see that often and being part of the larger community, not just one little group. I did go there by choice, but not with the greatest of attitudes.
One of the songs was one I'd never heard before, and instead of paying much attention to the words, I was reflecting on the general "dumbing down of society" which includes the fact that music in churches is now virtually always only with the lyrics provided for the congregation. With no written music, only the very most musical people can sing anything but the melody, and it's not usually possible to sing an unfamiliar song until it's been played through a time or two.
One of my favorite memories of the church I attended as a child was sitting next to Sara Pink, an older lady in the congregation who always sang the alto line. With her next to me, I could usually manage the alto as well and there are still a few songs to which I have the alto line memorized. Which may or may not have much to do with worship, but it had a lot to do with making a joyful noise and enjoying fellowship with other believers and just being happy being where I was.
So this song started, and I started grumbling inside about not knowing it and not having the music to follow. Pretty quickly, I realized that the tune was so simple that it was easy to sing along before they'd even gone through the whole refrain once, so I changed my focus to being disdainful of the simplicity of modern songs. Really, anyone reading my thoughts would have thought I was at least 90 years old.
Still, the rollickiness (is that a word?) of the tune started to get through to me and I realized that I liked it very much, and then I started paying attention to the words and realized I liked them even more.
Teach me to dance to the beat of Your heart, teach me to move in the power of Your Spirit,
Teach me to walk in the light of Your presence, teach me to dance to the beat of Your heart.
Having already used too much Christianese in the post already ("make a joyful noise" and "fellowship with other believers") I'll risk a bit more, as it happens to also be true: I was convicted of my attitude.
Dancing to the beat of God's heart is not as complicated as people like to make it out to be. That's one reason I haven't been "going to church" much in the last several months, as I find all the complicated rules and little groups frustrating. Having a relationship with God is so much simpler than that, and so much MORE. Instead of being stressed out by trying to keep the little ones quiet or being bored by an hour-long monologue, I've been enjoying my Sundays. While those who are going to church are out, it's a special time for me with whomever has stayed home (always the two little girls, usually Katie, and once or twice Lukas and Jacob), as well as often meeting with our friend Sue. The time before those who are going leave isn't hectic, trying to get everyone fed and washed and dressed to leave at a certain time, and when they come home, I'm happy to see them instead of just wanting to go hide somewhere. Every other week we also go to Sue's and Richard's house in the afternoon for games and a meal (translation to Christianese: fellowship with believers).
This morning our family spent as scattered as usual on a Sunday morning: Marie went to the Community Church, Jörn and the boys to the house church fellowship, and the three little girls and I stayed home. (Sometimes Katie and I go to the Anglican church with our friend Sue, and once Katie even went by herself with Sue.) Last night I didn't sleep well, partly to be blamed on Elisabeth's second tooth, which she worked hard on from about 2:30 for a couple of hours. But it wasn't Elisabeth's fault that I didn't even GO to bed until a few minutes before she woke up. I no longer remember much of the night at all, but I do know that I worked out this morning that I'd slept for about three hours total, and that not all in one block. So this morning I was TIRED.
I do try to make a point of not having the computer on while the others are out at church, making sure that it's a special time together with the little girls. I read them a lot of books (well, that's the same as every day...) and we often go to the playground or for a walk, and Sue usually joins us when we do. But I was very tempted to turn on the computer and watch things on youtube or something with Katie and Helen. Knowing that I was tired, I was being very careful to be extra-patient outwardly, but I was very grumbly inside. And then I heard Katie bouncing (she always bounces) through the house singing, listened more closely, and it was "Teach Me to Dance." So instead of turning on the computer, I opened the piano and we played a five-hand version of "Teach Me to Dance." (One hand was mine, playing the melody, the other four hands providing accompaniment belonged to Helen and Elisabeth.) Katie danced and we all sang, and I wasn't tired anymore. Very cool.
So finally having the energy to text Sue about a walk to the playground, I picked up my phone...and at the same moment heard thunder. So instead I asked Sue if she'd like to come here. She texted back yes, but then it started to rain pretty hard, so she waited for it to stop. Still, we had a nice half hour or so.
The song still in my head, I made fried rice for lunch instead of just tossing some bread and cheese on the table, and even made it more-or-less to order. I took out a portion for Katie when it was just rice, egg, and cheese, and then added some chicken from yesterday. Then I took out a portion for Helen and added in some bell pepper for the rest, which I ate (and shared with Elisabeth--she ate chicken and bell pepper, too.) After lunch, after Helen and Elisabeth had gone to sleep, I did turn on the computer and Katie and I watched some bits on youtube from a movie of Little House on the Prairie made in 2005. Not one bit less corny than the original TV show (although the Indians were slightly better done), but fun.
At 3:20 Katie was just starting to get a bit hyper and Helen had just woken up, so it seemed a good time to go pick up the boys and Grace. (Oh yeah--Jörn wasn't feeling well and had come home early from the house church, leaving Grace and the boys there. But as he'd gone straight to bed, him being home wasn't relevant to anything we did.) When we got home, I cut up carrots and Katie cut up cucumbers and we packed the cheese and chicken pieces and headed for Sue's and Richard's house. Marie had come home for an hour to practice the violin and then gone out to basketball, and Grace didn't want to go out again, so it was just the five younger children and me.
More electronic babysitting and a big treat: Katie and Lukas watched "The Slipper and the Rose" (on an actual TV screen), while Helen and Elisabeth played with Lego, and Richard, Sue, Jacob, and I played Thurn und Taxis. A cool game we only recently learned, and I like it very much. (Didn't hurt any that I won, but I didn't exactly understand WHY I did...I think that was mostly the luck factor.) Dinner was fairly peaceful, amazingly, and after dinner the children finished the last bit of the movie while we tidied up and chatted. Elisabeth enjoyed eating cat food and cucumber and carrot and tomato soup and bread and cheese and chocolate cake, but I think her very favorite was the cat food, as she kept trying to get back to it. (We were wise to her and stopped her every time she crawled slowly to the corner, turned and grinned at us, and the crawled quickly around the corner towards the cat food.)
I'd expected to have Marie's assistance in walking home, thinking that she could take either the buggy with Helen in it, or Katie's hand, and Jacob take the other, while I take Lukas's hand (walking home in the dark, I don't like them running ahead, and they usually won't NOT run ahead unless we physically hold their hands), but Marie had called after basketball to say she was tired and going home. But for some reason, Katie and Lukas both calmly walked next to the buggy all the way home.
And now it's 9:30 and two children are asleep (Lukas and Katie), one more is in bed nearly asleep (Helen), one was just sent to bed (Jacob), one is reading somewhere (Marie), and one is falling asleep on my lap while I type (Elisabeth). Nope, now Elisabeth IS asleep.
Having that song in my head all day has very much helped me to "dance to the beat of God's heart", but He can keep the neither slumbering nor sleeping to Himself: I'm going to bed now. :-)