A testimony by Carolynn Puhach
One of the things Kris and I [LaDawn] love doing is ‘pestering’ older parents who now have kids loving and serving God. We pick their brain for what they did and how they parented so that we can learn from them. Every family is unique and we can’t carbon copy each other, but we can listen to each others’ stories and ask Jesus if there are pieces from others’ lives that would benefit our own. One of the families we look up to is Chris and Carolynn Puhach because of they way they have always involved their kids in their church ministry. This model of church as a way of life has made a tremendous impact on both their kids and you can see the fruit in their lives. I asked Carolynn if she’d be willing to share a few thoughts for us younger moms. This is what she sent me…
January 17, 2000, our life changed. Chris and I had been married for a year and half and on that particular day Ashley Marie was added to our family. I had always loved children, did lots of babysitting but when you hold your own flesh and blood, something within you changes. We were now responsible for another little life. She was totally dependent on us for EVERYTHING.
As I reflect back to those days, there are a few things I learned which really stuck with me. Practically speaking, one thing was that if nursing your baby doesn’t work: DON’T STRESS. Doctors, nurses, other moms may frown when they read this, but it is true. I found nursing really tough. My baby just wasn’t getting what she needed. I just didn’t have the supply, so I would be nursing for an hour and then start the whole process in about another hour. Oh, it was so frustrating! I finally decided to switch to formula. What a great decision! Our daughter slept better, was more content when she was awake, I knew that she was getting enough and I wasn’t attached to her so much (which allowed for more outings).
Another thing we learned was you don’t have to change your entire schedule around your child. Both of our children learned from early on to fall asleep in their carriers. This allowed Chris and I to do visitation with our previous church. We were deacons, which meant the elderly in the congregation loved to be visited by the deacons of the church. We would often visit people in the evenings and bring our daughter along. Sure, it should have been bedtime, but we would hold her, she would fall asleep and we would simply place her in the carrier and continue with our visit. We did not let bedtimes, naptimes, or feedings interrupt what we wanted to do during the day. Ashley was such a blessing to the people we visited too. Who doesn’t like to hold a baby? Ashley learned to enjoy other people. Let your children bless others. Don’t hold on to them too tightly. Allow them to bless others! Remember that they are a gift from God, so He may want to use them to bless someone else. This is something which carried over into serving at church. We did not let schedule affect if we would or would not serve in the church. Already described was our visitation at a previous church but this also didn’t change when we started attending Southland. Chris started his employment with Southland at the birth of our second child, Joshua. I was a stay home mom, but I was not one of those types of moms to stay home with my kids. We would walk to the nearest playground in the spring and summer months and bundle up and have trips to the mall in the winter months. Of course, there were mom’s groups to be involved with, and again I would not let naptimes or feedings interrupt plans made. The kids would just have to adapt and wait. Chris and I moved to Winnipeg to start a church plant right out of our home. Our kids had to learn to be flexible with naps and meals, as there were always people coming and going from our home. The neat thing was that our kids got to be involved with our ministry. I led a mom’s group in our home and they would play with whoever showed up. They had to share their toys with everyone. They knew that when people came over we would play with the kids or they would have to play alone while mom and dad had a meeting with someone. Grandparents even got involved by doing the child care for our little church plant. We attracted many single parents with their children so there were always many children to entertain. Grandma would teach a story, sing Bible songs and do a craft and afterwards Grandpa would actively play with the ones that needed to get their energy out. We didn’t stop church work just because we had small kids, we just got them involved.
When we returned to Southland, 3 years later, we again found the importance of involving our children in ministry. Josh began kindergarten in 2006, the same year that I began my employment with Southland. I was overseeing the preschool and nursery areas. With both parents employed at church there was no question as to what our kids would do, they would tag along with us. Because I was in the preschool area, the kids naturally followed me there. When we switched to 4 services, the question was asked, what would we do with the kids? They would serve with me. They would attend their own service in their own classrooms and then serve with me in preschool. Ashley was 7 years old and Josh 5 years old. They would play with kids in the 2’s room and were told that they had to set good examples for the little ones to follow. Ashley was a natural at this. She was the motherly type so she enjoyed “mothering” the little ones. Helping with play dough, reading books or playing house, these were all welcomed activities.
As our kids got older, they started to volunteer in other areas because they had enjoyed these early experiences with children. Josh has been in K-1 at his own table (sometimes with an adult leader) and has grown into the role of teacher for the past 6 years. Ashley has been on action praise teams, leader in Grade 2-4, helped with teaching, and a volunteer in nursery. The kids grew up volunteering so it was no question as they got older that they would serve.
Now as the kids are teenagers, they are actively involved at church. Ashley is an apprentice to cell leadership, mentoring a group of girls from the cell. Josh is using his talents with drums to play in a middle school band as well as once a month drums for the High School Worship Night. We attribute their involvement to their upbringing. Being involved in church life from an early age gave them the foundation they needed to make it their own.
Use it or lose it: Think about where you serve in the church. Is there a way to involve your kids in this or show them what you do? Is something you can do with your family to be a blessing to others? Ask the Holy Spirit or the church for ideas.