Monday, September 13, 2010

The Bobblehead Baptist

Have I mentioned how much I love a worship service? Well, I do. I don’t attend because I ought to go; I attend because I really want to.

And I sit on the back row…
which makes me a Back Row Baptist.

I’m not a back row Baptist because I want to stay disengaged from the service, though. I’m a back row Baptist so as not to disturb the other worshippers.

Because I’m also what my daughters call a
 a Bobblehead Baptist.
Our church is a First Baptist church in a small southern town, and First Baptists can be a very subdued bunch. Not I. I’m the toe tapping oddball of the congregation. I love the music, and even more, I love the words behind it.

Even so, I try to behave and respond in the most First Baptist way possible.

Feet planted on the floor…
Hands on the back of the pew…
Head… bobbing along as if it’s not acquainted with my shoulders at all.

If the song makes me weepy, I cry.
If the song makes me happy, I grin.
If the song is
Victory in Jesus
 Days of Elijah,
I might add a little bouncy hip action
 to the bobblehead dance.

And I belt out the song. In my head, I sound just like Mahalia Jackson (I think I must really sound like her, too, because nearby worshippers often turn their heads quizzically in my direction…)

This is the reason that I have been banished to the back row, the entire extended family along with me. There we sit all scrunched together in the family pew.

My family,
the sister’s family,
And the Duchess, of course.

The Duchess takes her matriarchal pew duties very seriously. She is the official look giver and peppermint passer. She likes those crackly peppermint wrappers to be opened during the loudest organ crescendo of the anthem. (If you forget to open your crackly peppermint paper during the crescendo, the crevice of the knee between two crossed legs is a pretty good muffle. A little cough while you're doing it helps too.)

In addition to the peppermints, she also passes the buck. If you sit on our pew and are under the age of 25, the Duchess will hand you a dollar to put in the collection plate. She has been passing the buck since the girls were little, and it appears that nothing short of matrimony will make her stop.

We knew that the newlywed nephew had passed Muster on his first official family visit because she came prepared with a crisp dollar bill just for him. I’ll never forget his face when he was passed the buck. The niece gave him the *just go along with it* look.

Which made me giggle.
Which got me The Look from the Duchess.

I put my offering inside of my little Baptist pink envelope. I could turn it in during Sunday School, but I refuse to do so in silent protest of the fact that they make two men miss Sunday School each week to count them. I’m sort of a rebel that way.

I did, however, buy little smiley face stickers to decorate my pink envelope..

 because the LORD loveth a cheerful giver.

He loves all cheerful givers, but he loveth the Southern Baptist ones. That’s because we’re prone to burst into Elizabethan English at random moments. We say “thee” and “thy” and “thou” and we add a little “eth” to the end of our verbs. We use ten dollar words like “unction” and “begotten”, and the curtain in the temple was not just torn in two from top to bottom, it was rent in twain…

Sometimes, Elizabethan Dixie triggers my giggle reflex…
Which triggers The Look from the Duchess.

Verily, Verily.

Aside from the bobbleheaded hip bounce and Elizabethan giggle reflex, I pretty much behave back there on my back row. I even take notes during the sermon. I do admit, though, that whenever a preacher wants every head bowed and every eye closed, I have an uncontrollable urge to peek.

Once, I caught the Duchess peeking too.
And I still got The Look.

If you were waiting for a point to this rambling mess, there is none. Let’s just call it an informational yakabout.  Not only did I just give you a piece of the puzzle from Thursday’s chicken note,
but now you know the reason why...
 the Presbyterian-born husband
readily volunteered
to go upstairs
to the balcony
and sit in the sound room
all by himself.

Can anybody relate, or am I the lone bobblehead in blogland?


Vanessa said...

Sister, you would fit right in in our pew at church! My shoulders were shaking I was laughing so hard reading this post! As a pastor's daughter from a looooonnnng line of pastor's kids I can relate to every aspect of this post! We aren't Baptist, though, but can we still be friends? :-) I am part of Bible Study Fellowship and I gotta tell you that I LOVE the old Hymns we sing and they bring tears to my eyes just as often as those new-fangled worship songs!
Kindred spirits for sure girl!

Anita said...

I am still laughing!! I used to only get a quarter as a child for Sunday School. And I just love your smiley face on the offering envelope. That is something to try! I grew up Southern Baptist then moved away and pretty much stayed Independent Baptist, until coming back home back to a SB church. It's funny, our church was once a first baptist before annexation, and Luis and I are definitely the "charismatic" bunch next to the "feet planted on the floor" type. You made my day!!

Sharon Kirby said...

I hardly know where to start!
I spent most of my "early" church days in Presbyterian churches - so I know how to sit quietly in my seat. (BTW - the whole peppermint and dollar thing cracked me up - we did that TOO!! - well, Mom did)
Where was I? Oh yeah, a quiet Presbyterian...Well, my family now attends a non-denominational church, and there are some "hand-raisers" and "head-bobbers" in the crowd. A few Sundays ago, the kids were on stage singing, with HAND MOTIONS, and I just couldn't help it - I turned to my sons and said, "If you've gotta go, go now, because I'm gonna do the motions!" They both gave me THE LOOK.
But you know what, it FELT GOOD!
So...if I ever get a chance to sit with your extended family in that back row, I may just grab your hand at a particularly "crescendo" kind of moment, raise our arms together and shout, "Praise the Lord!" (It will probably be the LAST time I attend your church!)

Verily, I sayeth unto thee - thou art a delightful sister. Thou hast maketh me laugh.

p.s. You know, I thought I heard Mahalia Jackson last Sunday in MY church. Hmmm...(does sound carry that far?)

laura :) said...

I distinctly remember the day Grandson-in-law was given the dollar. It remains one of the funniest moments yet!
And I don't mind your bobbleheadedness-I had to get it from someone :)
Keep bobbling...and toe tapping!


Best daughter ever

Denise said...

Well you KNOW that I'm next to you on that pew every Sunday bobbling and tapping. You failed to mention the note passing. It's certainly easier to do on the back row because no one can see you. (Usually about a missed note or Sunday School question but occasionally about "Who is that sitting on the third row?" or "What's up with the spiked hair in the choir?") I am ashamed to admit I also peek to see if anyone has their eyes open but I don't think I've been caught yet. (By God but not the Duchess. Do you think God minds?).

Your envelopes are just adorable and I think they make you a much more cheerful giver! I may have to steal, sorry, borrow that idea.

I've never heard that particular voice coming from you on Sunday. However, I am a little deaf so maybe... (At least when we do get to heaven we'll have some pipes anyway).

Simply adorable post. I laugheth all the way to the end!!

Holly said...

Since I only occasionally go to church - trying to change that...really, I am! I cannot say I am a bobblehead - our church is a quiet Mehtodist one, but if I could go to your church I would be.

Your description of Sunday services just made me smile!

Angel said...

THANK YOU for sharing the gift of your words that bring laughter - much needed laughter to your readers! This post is great and I think you should start a Bobblehead club. I would be the first to sign up :)

FrouFrouBritches said...

Love, love, love this post! I, being the good Southern Baptist Girl I am, totally understand everything you said! We used to squeeze four generations onto our back pew (actually it was the second from the back pew). My grandmother had the crackle paper peppermints because she had a bad cough - my great-grandfather always had crackle paper butterscoth. YUM! I miss that little church. I, too, had to peek during the prayer and we passed notes too. Our notes usually consisted of "What's for lunch?" until mom and dad started singing in the choir. Then I tried signing to mom and I got "The Look" from the choir loft! EEK! Hubby was raised Missionary Baptist and his grandfather was a minister, so instead of "The Look", he got "The Pinch" of his grandmother was beside him or even worse, got called down from the pulpit. EEEK!

Love "Victory in Jeses, My Savior Forever..." It's one of my faves, along with "It Is Well" such great harmony in that one. I'm gonna be singing those all night!

Love the part about the dollar bill! Sooo funny!!!

FrouFrouBritches said...

Ummmm, I can't type. I meant Jesus, not Jeses.

Beautiful pear tree lane said...

Hi there Bobblehead Baptist,from another Bobblehead Baptist. I thought i was reading my own story. This is so funny! I laughed and laughed, my dh's mother was the duchess in our clan, always feeding us with mints, and giving us looks. We too sit on the back row. I respond to songs in the same way you do, and sing just as loud, and have had looks too, even though i declared to my family the folks who looked back were so amazed at my voice and were ready to send me to a recording studio. LOLThanks for making my day!

KimSetser said...

This is my favorite post of the week and I plan to share it with all my baptist friends on facebook! LOL

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post! I am also one of the family pew sitters and usually the cause of laughter for both of your daughters....whoops! And usually I get the look from my mother as well.

Linda W said...

Is it possible for a Catholic girl to also sound like Mahalia Jackson? (Will admit that my voice isn't that of an angel, however, I still try.) BTW, Catholics also use The Look. Trust me, my girls were the recipients countless times.

Thanks for giving me best laugh of the day, Debbie! Makes me want to tag along with you and visit your church.

Sharon Kirby said...


I had to share this story with you, too. A little more "irreverent" church behavior.

My brother and I were about 9 and 12 (I'm the oldest), and we somehow got our signals mixed up with my mom, and ended up sitting by ourselves in church one Sunday (yup...trouble!) My brother took one of the offering envelopes and started drawing. He could/should have been a cartoonist. After several minutes, he nudged me and showed me what he had drawn. It was a man with his neck and head drawn on the flap of the envelope, and his torso drawn below the flap. He was holding a sign that said, "Are you a man or a mouse?" Then my brother lifted the flap up, and here was the face of the same man with the biggest set of mouse ears ever, and a full set of whiskers. Now he was holding up a sign that said, "C'mon. Squeak up!" I will NEVER forget that my whole life. I've never had so much trouble trying not to laugh (yes, we were largely unsuccessful!).

I like to think that God got a kick out of it (I hope) - because we were sure happy!

p.s. I would be HONORED if you shared my football post! Thanks so much!

Gayle said...

One of your best ones yet, Debbie. :-)

Lynn Richards said...

Well. I just need to say ya'll need to come out and move more than your toe and head for worship-we would have a blast!! We don't go all out crazy, but we sure have a good time.

My confession is that I was the one who would always bring crayons and books and snack the evening services. I didn't see anything wrong with the girls sprawled out on the floor at the edge of row coloring away in sheer contentedness!! My friend, on the other hand was horrified and made them get up. No fun!!!


Amy Kinser said...

You absolutely crack me up. I was a back row Baptist for a long time. I was also a half hand raiser as a friend once called me. I am now a full hand raiser and sometimes both hands. Sometimes with arms extended way high in the air. I also have a bounce going on at the same time. (especially with Days of Elijah...oh my what a song) After many years in the Baptist church, we are now at a non-denominational church. I decided a long time ago just to pretend like no one was around me during worship time that way I could just do what I wanted to do. (with some limitations of moon walking or anything like that you know)

Can I come meet you, your sister and the Duchess? Ya'll are so fun. Love the smiley face stickers. Love that you want to peek, because I always so want to just take a quick look too.

Anonymous said...

Oh, LOVE this post. If you're the bobblehead, then I'd give the Duchess a heart attack, lol. I sing, clap, raise my hands, sway to the music, especially if my Hubby is playing guitar.

I can happily say that this slightly hyperactive Christian finally came to terms with how God made me - to move to His worship and praise music.

If you ever come to Oregon I insist you join me at church and you can't sit in the back row! :)

BECKY said...

Ohhhh Debbie! You sure got me laughing gal!! While I cannot make a claim at being Baptist, I most certainly am a toe-tappin, head bobbling,hand clapping Jesus loving gal!! You go girl! LOVE LOVE LOVE the smiley faces on the offering envelopes!! What a delightful idea!!

Have a blessed day, and may the joy you give to others come back to you 100 fold!!


I've been a Back Row Baptist for over 30 years.
It's the only way to fly! :-)

Ann said...

Oh I relate. We, like Linda, are Catholic, but I remember mom and dad and all 5 of us kids taking an entire pew in church. If we so much as sneezed, we got "the look."
Dad was the money passer ... mom was the mint keeper! LOL! They ganged up on us.
Now, the music is more a part of the Mass, where as before, it seemed only an "afterthought." So now, I do tap my toes, sway to the music and sing with a loud "joyful noise!"

Thanks for the laughs, Debbie (uh, and some odd memories)! LOL!

MDB said...

don't even pretend like you aren't ept at giving 'the look'...

Leslie @ goodbye, house! HELLO, HOME! said...

Dearest BB,
You can sit next to me anytime in the second row back at our church, where we raise our hands and sway and cry and smile!
I don't do peppermints in wrappers.
I do Altoids. Quieter.
This was probably one of my all time favorite posts of yours!
You are a hoot! And REAL!
I love you!

Kathleen said...

I loved reading this post. You have a way with words for sure!

Jennie said...

I love it! (And LOL @ MDB.) I love visiting and sitting in front of you on the 2nd to back row! You guys are such a comforting sight back there. Thank God for constants in this world! You and your smiley faced stickers are just so precious to me. I think Mrs. Denise is listening from the wrong angle. I have heard your beautiful instrument and I *love* it! Keep singing, Mrs. Debbie! (And tapping, and bobbling, and shoot - go ahead and keep peeking!)

And what *is* it about being in a service that triggers the giggle reflex? I am guilty, guilty, guilty of that!

Wonderful always!

Chatty Crone said...

Now I so totally know what you are taking about. You just want to be free and do what you 'feel'. You're good, but you don't always want to conform to the rules. And maybe you might embarrassed the straight laced Presbyterian.

That's okay - it's all good!


Ms.Daisy said...

I don't know about the bobblehead part, but "thee" are just too funny! This had me laughing out loud (more than LOL!) so thanks for the laughter - I really needed that!


Manuela@TPOH said...

Your posts are always so fun to read :)


laurie @ bargain hunting said...

Okay, I am actually laughing out loud! You are such a hoot! I cannot believe the way you just turned normal, every Sunday behavior into a comedy! I'm Methodist, but I identified with every single thing you said! My husband wants to know why I'm laughing. You haave a real talent for the written word. Thank you for my laughs tonight. laurie

gnee @ Singing With Birds said...

OK, so now I'm saving my pennies cause I want to come to your church with you! What a great post and love your even greater spirit that goes along with it. I gain so much from our worship services too. It lasts all week!

Dayle said...

This was just a pure joy to read, Debbie. You'd fit right in at our church, where we tap our toes and clap our hands and get quite happy over what the Lord has done in our lives!

Anonymous said...

As another member of the family pew, the honest reason I had to stop the Duchess from passing money to me (and to my husband) was because the president of the other bank in town usually collects the money from us...and well, that's just embarrassing to only give a dollar.

Great post!

CAL said...

Ha! I was always a back seat Catholic, so I certainly can relate. I always thought of it as a way I could slip in and out without being noticed. After all it was more important that God knows you are there then your fellow congregation - right? Yeah, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Love your funny donation envelopes, never even thought about decorating them - will now!!

Sonja said...

oh boy have I had a good laugh here!! I relate to all of it, where I sit, church, music, and peppermints! The only thing I can add is that my giggles usually came during the middle of one of my dad's sermons... the body bouncing, silent kind. Had nothing to do with his wonderful message, everything to do with his nutty daughter! ")

Debbie said...

Oh my, Sonja of Bits and Pieces sent me a link to your blog. I am so glad that she did. I've been a member of a southern Baptist church for 15 years and I understand exactly what you're saying. One of my friends who loves to raise her hands and be so expressive got banished to the pew in the back. LOL. Since I'm not an overly expressive worshipper, it hasn't been a problem but I do believe we should each worship as we like as long as we don't hit anyone in the head with our arms. :)

Blessings and love,

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Oh what memories this brings back...and I can just see me in the pew. I am in a Baptist church...more contemporary as they call it..we can raise hands, tap our feet...but don't decide to dance, so I do that in my head before the Lord.

You have nailed it...and there is just something so sweet about all of it. I am so glad God enjoys us all!!!!!!!!!!

Heaven is going to be a blast!! From conservative to those breaking loose...well I bet we all break loose in worship.

Fun to come to one of your older post I missed by not being a follower earlier.


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