My Outdoor Sanctuary

Sunday church family

It is another Sunday morning. I cringe. I wake up and put my head back under my blanket. I don’t know what mood the kids will be in when they wake up. Will I stay calm this time? This Sunday, they wake up screaming and shouting. Again. I groan. I shake my head. I sigh. I can no longer hide under the blankets. It starts off with various demands. Complaints.

I’m hungry. Sorry, we are fasting for communion.

I don’t want to wear this. Then choose something else.

Help me get ready. You are a big boy now.

I don’t want to go to Church today. We are all going.

I’m tired. I understand.

But, Mommy!

Even my 1.5 year old has started deciding that she doesn’t want to wear a specific pair of shoes. Or throws the clothes I choose for her away. And when she wakes up she throws a tantrum if she doesn’t get what she wants. Right NOW!

I’m a single mother on Sunday morning. We struggle. We fight. We are NOT walking to the House of the Lord in all Joy!

“I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1

And then when we arrive to Church, I enjoy the service . . . from outside the doors of the Church. My toddler wants to scream for everything as soon as we enter the church doors. Therefore, we remain outside so as not to disturb others. In my Outdoor Sanctuary, as I like to call it.

Why do we go through this struggle? Wouldn’t it be easier if we all just did what we do on Saturday? Relax in our pajamas, have breakfast, do our Quiet Time. All from the comforts of our home. I know I could do a lot of things differently on Sundays. Wake up earlier instead of stay in bed enjoying the peaceful moments before THEY wake up. We could choose our clothes from the night before. Discuss expectations beforehand.

But, still why? Couldn’t we just relax? Couldn’t I just go alone and call the nanny to come? I don’t want the kids to feel pressure. Hate the church because they were “forced” to go. But then why do I “force” them to school but then leave it optional for church? Maybe I can wait until they get older so they can sit still? But, at a young age, I know they are learning the hymns and their Spirit is getting filled whether we see it or not.

One early morning weekday Liturgy, I went alone. Needless to say, it was so peaceful. Joyous. I prayed. I praised. I relaxed. I didn’t have to take anyone to the bathroom. I didn’t have to stop a tantrum. I didn’t have any interruptions. It was….heavenly.

However, something was missing. What could it be? My kids! My kids? Why? Because, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have a chance to establish a foundation in my children. To love the Church. To love the Body of Christ. To love God.

One day they will be out of my care. My husband and I met an American Missionary couple living in Zambia. Their last born child recently traveled to the States to attend college. The father told us the night before she traveled he thought to himself, “If only I had one more day with her.” One more day.

When my kids grow up and move away. And it will happen before I know it. Will I say the same thing? If only I had one more day. If only I had one more chance to teach them. To pray with them. To explain the Liturgy. To learn the hymns. To be part of a Body of Christ. To serve others in Liturgy. To teach them how to receive the blessed Sacrament of Communion. One more day.

As I pray in my Outdoor Sanctuary, I will remember the words of a saintly nun that lived here in Zambia. She told me when I carry my pure child, just remember that the child is not a distraction, but that I am carrying Christ. Carrying Christ. Just like St. Mary.

“Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants, You have ordained strength” Psalm 8:2

I recommend that you do have a Liturgy to yourself if you can manage. Once a week. Once a month. Whatever it takes. Time for yourself in communion with God.

Maybe you have a similar experience on Sundays? It is hard not to make excuses on Sunday morning. I know some days you want to throw in the towel, like me. But, I want to encourage you today that no matter how hard the struggle is. No matter how frustrated you are. No matter how dry. It is worth it. It IS worth it!

Your child will thank you for it. Will say thank you for enduring. Thank you for not giving up. Thank you for praying in the Outdoor Sanctuary. Because you love God and love me.

Let’s chat: How do you cope on Sundays with young children? How do you balance your personal time for Liturgy vs. family Liturgy Sundays?


4 thoughts on “My Outdoor Sanctuary

  1. Mira says:

    Wow I can’t believe you wrote this!!! It is exactly how I feel most Sunday mornings. It ends up with me yelling at the girls and feeling terrible! How can I yell at the kids, feel angry inside and THEN take communion! Can’t find shoes that fit, they are hungry and complaining and I just need my coffee!

    There are some Sunday mornings I just want my husband to take the kids and leave me at home just because I need a break!! The crazy week working hard and never getting time for myself! Never!

    I do feel bad because it does happen where I just really don’t want to go but the difference is that unlike you, I do get lazy and at times decide to stay home!


    • Mira, I totally get your frustrations! I am with you. The beauty is that God’s grace will help you through the frustrations and struggle. Don’t carry guilt, and of course, the Holy Communion you and your family are taking is definitely working to bring you all into His Image! Even if you don’t see it now. Don’t give up!!

      God be with you and let us keep each other in prayers! Thanks for your comment, Mira.

  2. Nancy Girgis says:

    Dalia – I enjoyed reading your article very much. Thank you for describing exactly how I feel, it brought tears to my eyes realizing that I am not alone is all this + remembering how important and valuable it is to have my kids attending church with me although, as you mentioned, it is so tempting to leave it until they are older. I did experience missing them at the quiet masses I attended alone too – which seemed crazy to me at the time!
    All in all your thoughts are very inspiring to me and were very presented in a very articulate and enjoyable fashion. God bless and lets keep it up 🙂 – loving God and His precious gifts to us.
    Many thanks, Nancy

    • Thank you, Nancy, for your comment. Thank you also for letting me know that I am not alone in my struggles! Definitely let us keep each other in prayers and all those tired & frustrated mamas out there. Because our labor is not in vain! God bless you, Nancy.

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