The first time to worship

Of all the decisions we've made about how to best introduce our little man to his new life with us, the question about when to take him to church was one of the hardest.  We brought him home on a Saturday night and John and I were ready to take him the next morning! We love our worshiping community and are so excited to bring him into their midst.

With everything being so new and his fragile attachment to us still forming, however, we decided to wait three weeks until exposing him to church for the first time.  Three days ago I finally had the privilege of taking my precious son to worship with the body of Christ for the very first time.

John was preaching that morning so I was on my own with Arie, but John and I talked about how to best protect him from being overwhelmed by the experience the night before.  What we ended up deciding on (and doing) was this: I took him to the first of our two morning services (which is usually less attended than the second), I came a few minutes late and left before the sermon to avoid the before and after service crowds, I wore Arie in my Ergo carrier, and I sat in the back so I could make a quick exit when needed.

Sunday morning Arie and I slept in until 8am (I love this kid) and went about our normal routine.  I told him a few times as we got ready that we were going to go in the car and go to church. Despite his terrible motion-sickness, Arie loves the car.  He giggles to no end whenever we tell him that we're going to go in the car together! Once I got him buckled into his seat I told him again, "We're going to church Arie! We'll see Papa at church!"  It's hard to know how much he understands in English but he seemed to know something new was happening.

A short drive later we pulled into the parking lot and I got Arie out of the car.  I put him in the Ergo before we went inside so he would feel secure. (If you're adopting a toddler or younger I highly recommend wearing your child! I've always been an advocate of baby-wearing but even I've been amazed at how it has facilitated our bonding!)  As we walked up to the building I told him again, "This is church!" and he repeated the word after me in his sweet little voice: chich! 

In the Ergo at Target earlier in the week!
 As soon as we entered the doors I was so glad I had him in the Ergo.  He took one look at all the people and, hearing their singing, wrapped his arms around me and lay his head tightly against my chest. Kissing his head I whispered reassuringly to him as he took it all in.  As I looked for a seat in the sanctuary I interacted with a few friends who all noticed Arie's cradled posture and kept their hellos gentle and brief.

Once we found our seat I joined in with the congregation singing Christmas hymns. I could see Arie's little eyes look up from me when he heard my voice through the ear pressed to my chest.  The longer I sang, the more relaxed he became and eventually he lifted his head to look around.  I had many favorite moments that morning from watching him look around when we prayed the Lord's Prayer in unison to the way he stared so intently at the children's choir, but my favorite moment of all was when John got up to give the morning announcements.  Arie's body was relaxed against mine and I could feel the ebb and flow of his quiet breathing.  As John ascended the steps to the stage I whispered, "Arie- there's Papa."  Arie looked at my quizzically but as soon as he heard John's voice his whole body perked up and he swung his head around to see his father.  "Papa. Papa" he kept whispering.  "That's right Arie! Papa's speaking in church." "Chich." 

We stayed for about 20 minutes before Arie started to squirm and I knew it was time to make an exit.  We quietly sneaked out the back doors and made our way back to the car.  Arie called out, "Bye bye chich!" as we walked quickly through the cold.

Though our first morning at worship together was outlined with practical questions about where to sit and how to avoid the crowds and wondering how Arie would respond, it was also a deeply spiritual experience for me.  I have sat on those same burgundy cushioned chairs through a myriad of emotions.  I have sat silently when the pain of my infertility was louder than my ability to sing in praise.  I have sat swallowing giant lumps in my throat as I chewed and sipped in communion with our beautiful worshiping family.  I have sat with overwhelming pride as the face of my little boy was shown to the congregation for the first time this summer.  And I have sat with the peace of Christ calming all my adoption fears as all my brothers and sisters join together in prayer for us.

Now, finally, I took my place in the sanctuary and sat on those chairs with my little boy's head resting on my chest.  He heard me sing the gospel in that beautiful First Noel stanza:

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made Heaven and earth of nought
And with his blood mankind has bought.

This is the place where Arie will learn to sing, himself.  It is the place where he will learn what those hymnic lines really mean.  It is the place where he will meet his Savior in the hands and the faces of so many beautiful believers. He will make his first friends here.  He will hear his Papa preach here.  He will eat cookies and spill punch on his Sunday best here.

He will sit on those burgundy cushioned chairs beside his mama, singing, hearing and learning about how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

Here, he will be blessed for many Sundays to come.



  1. So sweet, Jill. Following your story keeps the longing for my child fresh. I'm glad for it.

    1. Equally glad to hear that. Praying your longing is soon fulfilled!

  2. Love! I agree about the Ergo, we use a Boba still and don't anticipate stopping anytime soon. However Declan will be ready to back ride in the next month or two. We never would have made it through the airport home without it. He was Beyond terrified at the ennormity of that open space!

    I had to share our church story. Yours made me a glisten ;)
    Despite what we thought we'd do, we brought him to church the very first Sunday he was home (we landed on a Wednesday). After all the praying we did to get him home, it just felt right to bring him to God's home right away. And we had a totally unexpected experience. D loves music. So when we entered the sanctuary, he heard the band and wanted Daddy to take him there right away. Where he proceeded to dance on the altar. And he's been dancing in the aisles every since. Complete with the hands up business, which we never taught him to do. He loves worship music like nobody's business!

  3. Such a precious first. May your first Christmas season of worship, fellowship and celebration be truly sweet...


  4. Stephanie12/19/2012

    Hi, Jillian...Mark Leeson's big sis here. :) Can you tell me what adoption agency you went through? Thanks!

  5. Anonymous12/19/2012

    It's really incredibly random that I've come upon your blog, but I know that our God is not random at all. Your blog posts (especially this one) have broken and opened my heart to some much needed Jesus healing. I've spent quite a bit of time wondering why I can't have babies and other people can. But your family is so beautiful. And God is good. And adoption is something He is REALLY into (He adopted us... right?) So thank you for sharing your journey with the internet and subsequently with me.
    - Paige

  6. Tears! Happy tears!

  7. I was just googling fundraising ideas for our adoption and came across your blog. Beautiful written. So moving. Our God is an awesome and gracious God. We are adopting a 3 year old little girl from the drc congo and looking for ways to fundraise. Thank you for your blog.
    blessing from our Lord and Savior


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