Church was hard today. I know... church and hard aren't supposed to go together. But I'm telling you, today's service reminded me how fragile emotions can be. And it wasn't just one moment during church that was difficult. It was more like the perfect storm of a sermon about death and eternal life, a choir anthem lifting up the truth of never journeying through life alone, and a final hymn, Abide With Me, that took me right back to that moment when I selected it for my mom's funeral.

On my way home from church, I pondered why this service was so difficult for me. Besides the sadness that will forever be part of my soul, and the fact that each part of this service was a check of my emotional well-being, I realized that my experience of church is starkly different when I don't have my kids with me.

Chase and Sidni had a sleepover with their grandparents Saturday into Sunday. This is so important for them as Grandmom and Pop Pop are the only grandparents they now have. So I went to church by myself this morning. This might not seem like a big thing, but sitting in that pew by myself, I discovered that the service is normally filtered through my role as mom rather than as Amanda. When I'm sitting with my kids, I listen to the lessons, the sermon, the lyrics of the hymns trying to hear them as I think my kids hear them. Because despite appearances of being occupied by coloring or doodling in the bulletin, they are listening. I filter the service through the eyes and ears of my kids. What is meaningful to them? What questions will they have? What answers will I have? Everything around them shapes who they are and their faith. It's important that I help and support them in their journey. But when my kids aren't with me on a Sunday morning, that mom lens disappears and it's just me. Just me.

Today, I left church feeling raw and exposed. But if you can believe it, not in a bad way. I can't say it was easy to sit there and listen to lessons about the valley of bones we all face in our lives. Quite the opposite. However, I heard today's messages as me. And maybe that's just what I needed. Maybe I need to do more of this each week. Maybe this is what my kids need to see. A mom who is flawed. A mom who doesn't have all the answers. A mom who has faith.

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