Tag Archives: church

World of Nursery-craft

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Man-Holding-Crying-BI am an exceedingly odd duck — and not for the reason most longtime readers of my work are thinking of right now.  I am a male nursery worker whose wife doesn’t work in the nursery with him.  To my knowledge, and the knowledge of everyone I’ve discussed this with, I am the only member of my kind.  I serve in the Snails class at our church.  This class is the pre-Sunday School of Sunday School and encompassed ages from “walking steadily without help” down to “mama finally has the courage to leave her bundle with a semi-stranger.”  I serve because I enjoy babies — spit up, dirty diapers, and all.  I should note, however, that my church has a policy forbidding males to change any baby’s diaper.

It’s one of those particular rules which runs its fingernails down the chalkboard of my anti-authoritarianism because I resent the implication implicit in the policy, but I make it a point of honor to tell my co-servers I am forbidden by statute, not a weak stomach, from changing diapers.  After all, I am a veteran of three Samples children from my former church nursery.  Those little tykes — who are now in high school and middle school — were fearsome in what they could pack in a Pamper. Their mom didn’t bring Wet Wipes, she packed Bounty paper towels and a shop-vac.  On more than one occasion, I have held a Samples child beneath a running faucet to expedite the removal of “material” from his back and it is not unknown for a nursery worker to resort to shampooing hair to complete a full diaper change. After Logan, Riley, and Emily, nothing in a Huggies can deter me. Stun me for a moment, maybe, but not deter.

But I digress.

This past Sunday morn, I was on the schedule to serve with the Salon twins.  They have never served with me before and when they arrived and I was already in the room, I got the usual “well, he’s going to be useless” look.  Most of the time, I take women by surprise because of having Shannon for a first name.  I love and miss Mama, but regardless of the fact she swore to her dying day it’s a unisex name, I never got to have a bicycle tag or a book bag tag because all the Shannon’s were pink and not blue. But I’m not bitter. Anyway, these two are in college and are six-year veterans of nursery work and babysitting and I could tell they figured on carrying me for the day. crying-baby-cartoon

Oh thee of little faith.

When the first song of the service started, we had three charges: Jackie, who is the chunkiest little boy you’d ever want to meet and adorable besides; Madeline, a darling little girl who isn’t long for Snails since she is up on two legs and motoring well; and Oakes, another little girl but she is a tee-tiny newborn and her mom was leaving her in the nursery for the first time. Three babies; three workers.  Easy-Peasey, right? No.

To understand what happened next, you have to understand a little about church.  Service starts at 9:15 AM.  That means the first song cranks up then.  Most people seem to live in some other time zone, though, because THEIR 9:15 is much closer to OUR 9:25 — 9:30.  It never amazes me how the same parents who can get multiple children out the door to school and day care so they can get to WORK on time have such an awful record of getting those same children to CHURCH on time.

Same goes for those scheduled to serve — a man or woman who may have a seven-year running record of perfect attendance at his or her employment doesn’t think twice about calling the staffing coach to say they “just can’t make it today.”  Now that it’s football season, it’ll get exponentially worse.  A guy can stay out until midnight on Monday or Thursday at the sports club watching football and still manage to get to work on time or even a little early, but for some reason he just can’t get up the day after tailgating and watching a NOON game at the ol’ alma mater forty-five minutes away.

Anyway, having three bambinos at 9:15 means nothing.

By 9:30, we had EIGHT.  Madeline was our best walker, Jackie our fastest crawler, and Oakes had another member of the “car carrier club” situated next to her in the teensy person of Lyndsey.  Our other four were Osteen, Mae, Benjie, and Sidney. Only Maddie was fully mobile so it looked like we were off to a good start . . . for five whole minutes.  Then, for some reason we never did determine, Mae decided to see if she could hit E flat over Middle C.  For those of you who’ve never worked with babies en masse, it’s the funniest thing — when ONE of them goes ballistic, they ALL go ballistic! By 9:45, we had an eight piece choir making a not-so-joyful noise.  The three of us looked at each other with a gaze that must have been reminiscent of the look the troopers of the 7th Calvary gave Custer when all those Sioux and Cheyenne rose up out of the grass at the Little Bighorn.

We petted and rocked and patted and replaced binkies which were promptly spit right back out.  I know a lot of you are wondering why we didn’t just cork the kids with a nice warm bottle? No such luck. The majority of women at our church are nursers and while I am capable and willing to do a lot of things traditionally considered “woman’s work,” breast-feeding is something God in His infinite wisdom thankfully did not equip me to do.  We were swimming upstream against an Amazonian current.  At one point, I had a baby on each thigh hugging and rocking them while simultaneously rocking Lyndsey’s car carrier with my foot.  The twins, veterans that they were, had two and sometimes three little ones, walking them around the room, trying to interest them in a ball or a rattle or something.  Then we had to make sure Jackie and Madeline — our two mobile mites — didn’t get into something dangerous. It was nothing short of pandemonium.

Just in time for Mom and Dad to pick up and take home.

Just in time for Mom and Dad to pick up and take home.

Now we have a system for paging parents to come get their children if we can’t get them settled, so why didn’t we?  Well, that’s the heart and soul of nursery work.  For a lot of these moms, this is baby number two or three . . . and sometimes four.  These are really busy women and even though they would be down at the nursery seconds after seeing their child’s number flash on the pager, all most of us who serve in the nursery realize this hour is the only time many of these moms have a chance to THINK.  We hold out as long as we possibly can, then hang on just a bit longer so the moms can have some time to themselves to worship and thank God for the precious little baby who is even now screaming his head off a mere twenty feet beneath her seat!

It’s not pride. It’s service and that why I do it and why most of the ladies I serve with do to.  As for this past Sunday, mercifully the whole group began to nod off into sound slumber — literally “sleeping like babies” — a whole five minutes before the first parent came down to pick up at the end of the service!  Nothing like having service end right at morning nap time! Oh, and the girls know I can hold my own in the nursery now!

Love y’all, keep those feet clean!

Seriously Embarrassing Moments I

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Really shouldn't be playing FreeCell in church!

A great many people are surprised to learn that I am an ordained minister.  Strange as it may seem to those who know me, I, in fact, possess not one, but two ordinations.

In one of the churches Budge and I attended while courting, and for a long time after our marriage, I was an unpaid associate pastor and technical support. I knew more about computers and A/V technology than anyone else in the 200 member congregation so when tech issues came up, I was in charge of fixing them.

When I first started attending, we sang off the wall songs — literally. We had the lyrics printed on transparencies. During service, a praise team member would place a transparency on an overhead that projected the words onto a side wall of the choir loft. On a good day, the transparency would be the correct song AND in the correct orientation (i.e. not upside down or flipped so the words were mirror written.) In the name of progress, however, the church council decided to ditch the overhead and jump the digital divide by installing a first class media projector on the 50′ ceiling of the sanctuary and connecting this marvel to a computer in the back balcony.

Here my troubles began.

One of the duties of my ministry to the church was to run the PowerPoint presentation of songs that replaced the overhead sheets. I would flip back and forth between songs or between verse and chorus. I don’t know how many of you have ever attended a true Pentecostal service, but  if you go to a service and don’t know the words to the song, hymn, etc . . . don’t fret, you’ll know it just fine by the 17th time you sing it — while standing . . . and clapping.

The new system worked great during regular services. My conundrum came about the initial “First Sunday Night Singing” we used the new projector. Sunday Night Singing, for those who aren’t baptized in the Holy Ghost and Fire, is a once a month Sunday night service devoted to singing. We’d have solos, duets, the Ladies’ Ensemble and the Senior Men’s Quartet. You get the idea. I fixed up a set of slides in the order of the singers with the singer or group’s name. If I found out what they were singing, I’d put that underneath their names.

Because of that design trait, I almost got a double barrel blast of embarrassment because Dee and Kristie Gail were singing that first night. They are sisters from Harlan County Kentucky and universally known as “The Kentucky Sisters;” however, “The Kentucky Sisters” wouldn’t fit on the slide in the 125 point font I preferred so I decided to abbreviate it. As a result, I very nearly shot a slide onto the 15′ x 15′ screen in 8″ high letters that said, “The KY Sisters and ‘He Touched Me'”. It might have given Sister Molly Spell, the eldest member of the church, a heart attack . . . provided she knew what KY stood for besides Kentucky. At 92, I doubt it, but you never know. Anyway, I digress.

The singing was in full swing and I was changing slides every five to fifteen minutes depending on how much “the Spirit fell” during each song. During one of the longer stretches, I discovered the “FREEZE SCREEN” button on the projector remote control. To test it, I shot the projector and cued up the next slide and, sure enough, the monitor changed, but the screen didn’t! I thought I was in Fat City because, to be honest, it gets right boring alone in the balcony just pushing a button every now and again.

So, without another moment’s thought, I froze the screen and pulled up FreeCell — the King of Time Killer Card Games! I was on a roll that night. I’d won seven straight games and was immersed in game number 8 when I learned something about our particular model of Hitachi LCD projector — the “FREEZE SCREEN” function only lasts for 15 minutes at a time. After that, it releases and goes back to showing whatever is on the computer at the time. You haven’t lived until your FreeCell game suddenly appears behind the music pastor and his wife like Moses parting the Red Sea in DeMille’s “Ten Commandments”.

As one, the congregation turned towards the balcony. The shot only lasted MAYBE five seconds, but one can die a lifetime in five seconds. What’s worse, I could hear Sister Molly asking her granddaughter what was going on. Unfortunately, Sister Molly didn’t think her granddaughter had understood the aforementioned question and, being somewhat hard of hearing, she figured everyone else in the world shared her infirmity as well. So, with the church still silently stunned at the intrusion of the Devil’s handiwork into a worship service, and at the hands of the associate pastor no less, what did I hear loudly and clearly, along with most of the town of Fountain Inn a good twelve miles away?

“I SAID, ‘WAS THE YOUNG FELLER WINNIN’ OR NOT?!

The next Sunday, I noticed FreeCell had been deleted.

Love y’all!

Keep those feet clean 🙂