I like to be on time.
And my husband really likes to be on time.
But somehow in twelve years of marriage I missed the fact that Ed's definition of "on time" and my definition were not the same.
My goal is to get to church in enough time to walk (not run) inside, hang up my coat, and settle on the bench before the first song.
We have a twenty minute drive to church. So it is not unreasonable to me to think of leaving at 9:00 to be at church before the 9:30 service.
But typically, quite a bit before 9:00, Ed is herding the children into the van. When we pull into the church parking lot at ten minutes after 9, I groan. All I'm thinking about is the twenty extra minutes I will need to sit with a wiggly one-year-old on my lap who does. not. like. to. sit. (And all you who go to church with us know that is an understatement.)
A few months ago, we pulled into church at our typical time. I sighed and said, "We didn't have to leave home so early."
Ed looked at me and said, "This is when I like to arrive."
That is when I realized that my definition of "on time" and Ed's definition of "on time" were not the same. I'm not sure why I missed it all these years. And since I believe that I need to adapt to my husband's wishes as much as possible, that meant that my definition needed to change.
I did to some sleuthing. "When did your parents get to church when you were a boy?" I asked.
"Oh, we usually were at church so early that we sat in the car for a while before going in. And the years that my dad was a trustee, we were the first to get to church so he could unlock the doors."
Gulp. Ed's parents had six children. Plus they were dairy farmers who had cows to milk before church. If they could be the first ones to church (and their service began at 9:00 not 9:30) I don't think any excuse of mine is going to work.
And Ed must be passing on the early-to-church gene. Any time we are running close on time (not with Ed, of course, but when I'm driving the children somewhere) my children start hyperventilating if we are not at least ten minutes early.
Of course there are times when even the best laid plans go awry. Like the recent evening that I was taking the children to singing class only to find the van battery dead. Ed worked at jumping the battery but finally gave up and told me to take the truck. A few miles down the road he called to remind me that the truck was very low in gas and I needed to stop at the first possible gas station. That evening, we were not on time by anyone's definition.
The next week the children wanted to start out twice as early "just in case."
He has taught them well. They remember the Sunday morning a few months ago that we were headed to another church where Ed was to preach. As usual, I thought we left at a ridiculously early time. But halfway to church, we spotted some cattle dashing across a field almost to a very busy highway. We pulled over and with the help of blasts from our horn, were able to head the cattle back across the field away from the road. Ed considered his options. He is a farm boy enough to know that the cattle needed to get back in their pen but following those cattle across the muddy field in his dress shoes and suit didn't sound appealing.
Thankfully we spotted the farmer in a four-wheeler headed out of the barnyard and we could proceed on our way feeling like we helped to avert a disaster but the situation was now in good hands. And we were still the first people to church that morning. Ed pointed out to our children the wisdom in allowing extra time so that we had time to stop and help others.
So with all this pressure from my family, I need your help.
Tonight begins a week of revival services at our church. I know from experience that it is going to be hard to get out the door every night on time. Especially Ed's "on time" which will include being at the prayer meeting a half an hour before the service each night. (And less you get the wrong idea, Ed is awesome at helping wash up supper dishes and tie shoes to help us get out the door.)
I really want our week to go well. I know from experience that a mom who is frustrated and yelling for everyone to "hurry up and get ready" is not a good way to prepare for a revival service.
What tips do you have to function well on a busy week of revival meetings? How do you organize your day to make your evening rush less stressful?
I only have one tip - Start early.
I learned this as a girl growing up in a house with only one shower for eleven people. As a farming family, everyone had to file through that one bathroom before church. If you happened to be one who didn't have chores, or who completed your chores early, you had better get your shower done at the earliest possible opportunity. Woe be to the one who is found in the shower if they had an opportunity to get it done earlier. The pounding on the bathroom door was warning enough to not allow that to happen again.
When my children were all young (those years that I had four children ages five and younger) starting early was the only way to save my sanity. Have you ever tried to get several sleepy, grumpy children through their bath while also attempting to fix supper? It doesn't work. I learned that on the nights that we were going away and the children needed baths, to give them their bath before their afternoon nap. Then when they woke up, I could read stories while watching supper and waiting for Ed to come home. It majorly lowered our stress level. After supper I could slip them into their church clothes (somehow dressing them before supper never worked) and quickly comb their hair.
Now that my children are older and can get their own showers, a lot of the craziness to get out the door has decreased. Fewer persons relying on me to find their shoes and button their shirts saves a lot of time, but still, starting early, earlier than I even think I need, is still a sanity saver.
So that is my tip - now please share yours!
And extra credit to anyone with a cure for one-year-olds who hate church. And sleeping pills don't count.