Thursday, January 31, 2013

Breastfeeding in Church

While on vacation this weekend, my family and I went to visit a church.  My husband had been there before and 'warned' me that it was full of young families with several children and that he noticed mothers didn't leave church to breastfeed their children.  He even told me of one lady that fed her baby right in the front row.

I couldn't imagine such a place because as much as I can remember, I'm not sure I've ever seen another woman feeding her baby in church.  Like, in the sanctuary, while church is taking place.  Most go to a mother's room or a church nursery, missing out on vital parts of fellowship and teaching.  If a woman wants to leave because the baby might be too distracted to nurse or maybe is a loud eater, that's fine by me.  What I don't like is the pressure to leave because you're doing something inappropriate, shameful and even a little bit dirty.   

In some places, I know it's taught and expected that a woman would leave and feed her child elsewhere. 

The church culture where I live is conservative in this arena.  But these thoughts aren't just from churches, but an echo of our society.  When around other friends and family members who are breastfeeding, most bring pumped milk, formula or leave the room to feed their babies.  

But I don't leave; I think I've breastfed my kids in pretty much every place imaginable.  And I get raised eyebrows, but I'm not bothered by that.  When my baby needs to eat, I feed him...and I say that not out of pride and vindication, as in, "Watch me whip out my boob and feed my baby!  Mwahahaha!  Oh, did I just spray some breast milk in your coffee?  Sorry!  Too bad for YOU!" but in a spirit of, "This is normal.  And in order to encourage women to breastfeed and normalize nursing, I will feed my baby here."

I've even heard stories of women being kicked out of their churches for breastfeeding in church.  Some receive letters from their elder board, some are invited to conversations with their pastors and asked to refrain or leave and I've even heard of one story where the lady was 'called out' in church. 

It makes me sad that some people of God don't encourage a mother to feed her child.  When able, God has given women a remarkable gift, nothing that should be shamed, but instead embraced.  It truly is a miracle and something that is honorable.  It is also a representation of how God has cared and nursed His people. (Isaiah 66 is perhaps the most compelling.) 

The Church should be the first place that exalts and makes room for a mother to do one of her jobs.  

I'm not talking exalt, as in, party, streamers, parade or disco ball.   Nothing like a Mardi Gras-inspired fete.  I'm talking about skipping the shame and welcoming all family members to worship -- not condemning two of them to a metal folding chair in a stinky bathroom or poorly-heated lonely room with pastel colored wallpaper circa 1991.

So, while a guest at this church over the weekend, my son needed to eat (and nap), so I started breastfeeding.  And for goodness' sake, we were on couches, so that made it really easy to feed the babe!  As I could see many other mothers all around me, I noticed others discreetly feeding their babies throughout the service -- during communion, worship, and the sermon. And no one batted an eye. 

It was wonderful.

Our church is awesome and I've never had anyone specifically ask me, but I'm maybe some in our congregation have wondered why I don't leave the room when I breastfeed my kids.  I get done leading worship and I breastfeed Mylo, while my husband starts the sermon.  No big deal.  There's a lot of answers (some displayed above), but mostly, I know that I have young eyes watching me all the time.  And I hope I can inspire some of them and encourage them that's it's normal, even in church, to take care of the needs of your children.  :)

We, as the people of God, should be leading our culture with this message; breastfeeding is normal, natural, acceptable and a gift from God.


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Friday, January 11, 2013

Unique Gift Ideas From The Kids

Teaching children to create personal gifts for friends and family is an excellent way to encourage creativity and to teach that the thought is the purpose for the gift. It is so easy today for gifts to be purchased online, without even the slight inconvenience of going to the store. Convenience, in far too many cases, begins to trump consideration in gift giving. To encourage kids to create their own gifts for any occasion will start them down the right avenue and help develop integrity.

There are so many ways that a child can take his or her interests and abilities and create simple, yet thoughtful, gifts for any occasion. Birthdays, anniversaries, Easter, get well, congratulations, along with others, are all examples. This giving spirit also makes them more aware of particular events that should always be remembered or acknowledged. They will begin to look forward to the next time they can create a gift for someone.

Here are a few ideas:

   • Home Baked Treats – Everyone appreciates a little sweetness in their day. With
cookies, biscotti, cakes and pastries presentation is half of the gift. Have them place
cookies into a redesigned potato chip tube. It can be covered with paper and a
bow added. Or go to the dollar store and find little baskets, buckets or dishes and
wrap them with any see through material. Here is a great idea from the Desperate
Craftwives – using an empty aluminum foil box. Paint it or cover it with wrapping
paper and it makes a perfect cookie box. I can’t wait to have the kids try this when
giving away Christmas cookies!

    • Green gifts – Mason Jars and other clear glass containers can be turned into living
terrariums. Craft stores carry all varieties of little animals, houses and decorative
ornaments that can be placed inside. If a person is fond of a particular wild animal,
like a tiger or wolf, a little environment containing a miniature will be a big hit. This
site offers many other different uses for mason jars, some a little difficult for the kids,
but could also be fun to try.
    • Personally Designed Greeting Cards – Treat, an online custom greeting card site,
provides the opportunity for anyone to design a single card and create it around the
personal lifestyle, hobby or personality or the recipient. It is fun and easy and costs
less than picking a card from the rack. Kids will love doing it and anyone like a teacher,
friend or family member, or even a classroom crush, will be thrilled by receiving it. I
can’t wait to have the kids make these Valentine’s Day cards for their classmates next

    • Repurposed Items – Everyone appreciates reuse of an item today. Repurposing really brings out the imagination in children. Let them create useful items from Popsicle
sticks, corks, different pasta shapes, glass jars and bottles or old jewelry. There are
literally thousands of ideas online on Pinterest, Making Friends, Frugal Café and many
more. Here are a number of ideas from Kaboose for crafts using recycled items.

There is no one person on this earth, who has a heart, who does not appreciate a handmade gift, especially from a child. That gift will never be re-gifted, squirreled away into a drawer, or wind up at Goodwill. It will be enjoyed and used as intended. The children also receive a gift in return for creating and giving. They receive the gift of accomplishment which they will own forever.

*Today's guest post was written by Jen Lopez.  She is a freelance writer, aspiring blogger and mother of two. She received a bachelor of science in journalism and public relations from West Virginia University and hopes to publish a book on parenting.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Indoor Hammock Fun!

PS - I used a gauze wrap (woven would work, too) and tied it up.  Best.plaything.ever!

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