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Heavenly Humor for the Woman's Soul
By Michelle Medlock Adams, Martha Bolton, Patsy Clairmont, Debora M. Coty, Dena Dyer, Karon Phillips Goodman, Tina Krause, Marilyn Meberg, Helen Widger Middlebrooke, Anita Renfroe, Ramona Richards, Toni Sortor, Rachel St. John-Gilbert
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2008 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Not Just Monkeying Around
Debora M. Coty
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow.... Each day has enough trouble of its own."
I grinned at the newspaper clipping. "Wild Chimps Observed Making Spears for Hunting" only confirmed what I'd suspected all along: Women are the real innovators.
The article highlighted female chimpanzees in Senegal fabricating weapons in a multistep process. "The landmark observation also supports the long-debated proposition that females—the main makers and users of spears among the Senegalese chimps—tend to be the innovators and creative problem solvers in primate culture."
"Aha!" I waved the telltale article beneath my husband's nose. "That's why 'Necessity is the mother of invention,' not the father!"
Chuck was quick to point out a paragraph describing the lady chimps repeatedly stabbing their prey: "'It was really alarming how forceful it was,' said lead researcher Jill D. Pruetz of Iowa State University, adding that it reminded her of the murderous shower scene in the Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho. 'It was kind of scary.'"
Recalling my own psycho-frenzied behavior on numerous occasions, I felt an odd kinship with those hairy gals. They were probably married with children. A recent Psycho moment came to mind.
The previous Friday, I'd invited my daughter, her fiancé, and future in-laws for dinner. With an hour to go, I'd allowed precisely enough time in my tight schedule to zip-clean my house and fix dessert. I had just set out éclair pie fixings and evacuated the dinette chairs and throw rugs to mop the kitchen when Chuck's frantic cry for help resounded. Naturally, he'd picked that moment to fix the leaky tub faucet and water was shooting all over the bathroom.
Using a skillet lid as a shield, I fended off the water blast to get close enough to divert the geyser while Chuck dashed outside to shut off the water to the house. By that time, whitecaps dotted Lake Coty.
Every towel in the house was gathered to sop up the mess when the doorbell rang. The cable guy had arrived to repair the order we'd submitted five days before. He was followed inside by an irate neighbor screaming about her neglected repair request, and I retreated to the kitchen where my whipped topping had been reduced to the consistency of clabbered cream.
Layering graham crackers and now-unwhipped cream and pudding in a large dish, I was nearly finished when I happened to pop a broken cracker in my mouth. EWWWW! Rancid! What to do? No time for the store!
The doorbell chimed again. I had to answer. Chuck was still swimming in Lake Coty.
I sprinted back to the kitchen and scraped pudding from fifty-eight nasty crackers. I never knew old graham crackers taste like the stuff you scrape off your shoe after tipping cows.
Plundering through my cabinets, I found another box. Shooting a prayer heavenward, I taste-tested a cracker. Thank you, Lord! I respread the rescued pudding and topped it with fudge sauce. No one need ever know.
While I dragged the overflowing trash can outside, Chuck resurfaced and helpfully replaced the kitchen chairs and rugs, assuming I'd already mopped.
I heaved them back into the living room and ran to squeegee the flooded bathroom. I returned to find that Chuck had again replaced the chairs and rugs on the dirty kitchen floor. Or maybe they got homesick and waddled back themselves.
At that moment, our guests arrived.
In these laugh-or-cry situations, thanks, Lord, for helping Your innovators choose to laugh!
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
In our house, a piece of laundry takes about four days from start to finish. The first day it's run through the washer and dryer. The second, it sits in the dryer developing the proper number of wrinkles. The third day I reheat and fold it. The fourth day it's put away. That's assuming I haven't run out of something vital or created a roadblock by washing more than one load a day, in which case folded laundry piles up, and the cats sleep on it, requiring a second run through the washer and dryer.
I don't normally procrastinate in life's little chores. Papers never pile up on my desk. I have a mental to-do list and enjoy working my way through it, but somehow laundry always sinks to the bottom of my list. We adapt. I can wear a pair of jeans for two days, if necessary. My husband has discovered he can wear a bathing suit under his business suit when all else fails, since he would not think of buying a week's worth of anything at once.
Things are not going to change, laundry-wise. Now thatthe kids are gone, so is my motivation. Now doing laundry frees up time to read a book, visit the grandchildren, go fishing, or even take a nap. I love laundry simply because I can always put it off without guilt for another day.
Words a Woman Will Never Say
"What a rotten day. This new dress makes me look ten pounds slimmer, my husband cleaned the house while I was at work, and the kids threatened to do their own laundry if I refused to put my feet up and relax all evening. Now I ask you, how much more can a woman take?"
Rachel St. John-Gilbert
For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does— comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:16
Most women have a hard time keeping a pristine home unless they hire help to keep it that way. I often wonder if we worry too much about what others will think— we are so often our own harshest critics. Perhaps we would be a little easier on ourselves if we heard a different view.
My writing friend Susan lives in the country with her husband and three sons. Her boys hunt in the fields and fish in the creeks, so Susan doesn't have them underfoot too often. Even so, with her writing projects, speaking engagements, and travel schedule, her house usually leans more toward Rat's Nest than Pristine. In other words, if cleanliness is next to godliness, Susan hasn't got a prayer.
However, if lovability is next to godliness, Susan is a saint. Most of her friends, including me, love it that Susan's house is usually in a state of disarray. There's something freeing about never worrying about spilling coffee on—well, anything. Equally nice is the fact that we aren't tempted to compareour homes with hers and feel discouraged or jealous. We can prop up our feet and let the good times roll! Susan usually has us rolling right away with her storytelling skills. She is a walking treasure trove of "truth is stranger than fiction" funny stories. And the last one was a doozey:
"I'd been to a Bible study," she began, "and afterward my car wouldn't start. Well, Claire Smith—a new gal in town—offered to take me home.
"'I'd love to see your house.' Claire beamed. 'You know—where you write, how you manage with children.' I could feel the panic rising, remembering how I'd left my house that morning.
"At the front door I tried to prepare her.
"'It might be a little messy ...,' I said. Reaching the kitchen counter, I cleared away cereal bowls and wiped up warm sticky milk as fast and inconspicuously as I could. Claire was still all smiles and seemed unmoved by the mess. 'Let me see what I have in the fridge here,' I rambled. 'I think I have some cheese and grapes we could snack on while we visit. We'll sit out on the back porch....'
"My thought was to get Claire out of the house as quickly as possible, but when I opened the fridge, I gasped and shut the door in record time. I've encountered many interesting things in my refrigerator, but this time, even I was shocked. Staring me in the face was the carcass of a rabbit and the pelt of a squirrel. Obviously my sons had been big-game hunting.
"I took Claire gently by the arm and ushered her to the back porch.
"'Tell you what,' I suggested. 'Why don't you sit here in the porch swing while I fix the tray?'
"An hour later, we were fast friends, and I told her the truth about what was in the fridge. She laughed till she cried. Girls, Claire's gonna fit in just fine!"
Susan finished her saga with this jewel. "Thank y'all so much for taking me just as I am—without one plea. Except, maybe, insanity."
"You know we wouldn't have you any other way!" I insisted. "Remember, some people say a clean house is a sign of a sick mind."
What is it about a "be yourself" kind of friend that is so irresistible? Maybe it reminds us of what unconditional love feels like. To be able to completely relax in someone's presence and home is a gift; and we can thank God for those who give us that relational luxury. We can even take mental notes and learn how to do the same for others when they come to our place. Maybe Susan can loan us some squirrel pelts to get us started.
For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. Psalm 72:12
I discovered long ago that I was not good at cleaning. Some people actually enjoyed it, but I found it as rewarding as having teeth pulled. The problem is, you are never done with it, never satisfied that you captured every last dust bunny or swept away every cookie crumb. Even if you did, more would begin to accumulate before you put away the mop. Cleaning has a certain built-in futility.
But I did it for a good twenty years as the children grew up, and nobody ever caught a horrible disease from the cobwebs I knew I missed. When I went back to work and collected my first pitiful paycheck, it finally dawned on me that I could pay other people to clean my house. My mother had never had help, even though she worked all her life, but she was a better woman than I am, or at least less compulsive.
Ever since then I've had a crew of people who appear every week and accomplish more in one hour than I could by cleaning every spare second of my day. I still have to do some cleaning, but the burden is off my back. Help arrives every Wednesday afternoon, regular as clockwork, and I don't go looking for trouble in corners or anywhere else. To me this is the abundant life in spades.CHAPTER 2
Running on Empty
Debora M. Coty
Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Proverbs 5:16
While rereading Dr. Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages, the importance of actually speaking the language of the one with whom we're trying to communicate was demonstrated to me in a most memorable way.
My husband and I were visiting picturesque Innsbruck, Austria, on our first trip abroad. By the third day, the cuisine disagreed with my delicate internal fortitude. I began to feel the effects of the middle Rhea sister of that infamous trio, PyorRhea, DiarRhea, and GonorRhea. Yep, I was assaulted by the Innsbruck trots.
Frantically searching for the Bavarian equivalent of Walgreens, I discovered a sign down the street from our hotel bearing a long German word reminiscent of "apothecary," the old-fashioned term for drugstore.
Aha! I'll just run in there and find something that looks like Immodium.
So I shuffled into the shop, knees together and rear cheeks clinched, to find a wall-to- wall glass counter behind which were stored all the goods. Three stern-faced clerks were taking orders. Uh-oh. I knew zero German.
It's okay, I thought, I hear everyone in Europe knows English. No big deal.
"Hello." I flashed a smile. "Do you speak English?"
"Sprechen sie Deutsch," the clerk replied tersely.
Oh dear. "Does anyone here speak English?" I gestured toward the other employees.
"Sprechen sie Deutsch," she stated firmly, as if to imply, "You dope, where do you think you are, Disneyland?"
Think, Debbie ... I know! I've always been good at charades. I'll act it out!
Glancing at the other now-gawking customers, I leaned over the counter and whispered, "I" (pointed to my chest)— "need" (pointed to knee) —"medicine" (mimed popping pills into my mouth) —"for" (held up four fingers)—um, um ... "diarrhea" (gestured a river flowing deep and wide).
At that moment, a dozen Japanese tourists crowded into the tiny shop, packing us in like a box of toothpicks. The clerk stared at me, waiting. I considered giving up, but that Rhea sister wasn't just knocking on my door, she was pounding with both fists.
Deep breath. Try again. "I" (pointed to my chest)— "have" (fist in other hand)—"the runs" (high-kneed running in place with sphincter muscles kicking into high gear).
The customers behind me tittered. The clerk shook her head and jabbered loudly to her cohort as my dignity meltedinto a puddle on the floor. I was deathly afraid that something very nasty was about to follow.
A Japanese woman from the back of the crowd made her way to my side. She bowed. I bowed back. Then, bless her compassionate heart, she uttered the three most beautiful words I'd ever heard: "Please ... me ... help?"
"Oh yes! Sí! Oui! Toshiba! Kawasaki!" (I don't speak Japanese either.)
Trilingual, she translated my dilemma to the clerk in German, ending her monologue with, "English ... di-ree-ah."
"Ah, di-ree-ah," the clerk echoed, heading for the supply shelves. She suddenly turned and chattered to my interpreter, who translated with accompanying gestures. "You ... small di-ree-ah (fingers one inch apart), or BIG di-ree-ah (hands spanning four feet)?"
With face flaming, I had no choice but to reply with the appropriate in-between gesture, "Medium di-ree-ah."
Not the makings of a fond vacation memory perhaps, but a very effective reminder that if I don't put forth effort to speak the love language my spouse understands, I might as well be speaking a foreign language.
Complex by Design
Helen Widger Middlebrooke
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. Ephesians 5:25 KJV
A sportswriter I know once wrote a column explaining how simple men are.
Inspired by this, I wanted to write an essay explaining how simple women are.
But I couldn't. Because women are not simple.
Just ask Mike. After nineteen years, he still hasn't figured me out.
Say, for example, he comes home to find me crying. To his simple cause-and-effect mind, something must have caused the crying, so he reacts accordingly:
"Nothinggggg," I'll wail.
"Then why are you crying?"
"I don't knowwwwww."
"Why don't you stop?"
"Because I feel like crying!"
He'll walk away shaking his head, muttering.
I also make him mutter at vacation time. While he leisurely packs his one suitcase, I clean the house, wash every piece of dirty laundry, pack for at least five kids and myself, and make sure all of them are in clean underwear (in case we have an accident).
Then I stuff my tote bag with unread magazines and newsletters, receipts, and a few notebooks. The first hundred miles, I post receipts and tally food expenditures.
"Ah," he'll say, "we're on vacation."
That's what he thinks. I'm still trying to get caught up and organized so I can relax. My house and family are extensions of me—and if they're not in order, I'm not in order.
And then there are times when I'm stressed out over a problem:
"I've got to take two to piano lessons from 2:00 to 3:00, get two at school at 3:00 and be downtown for an appointment by 3:15. This is crazy!"
"So why don't you have the boys walk home?" he'll say calmly.
Idiot! I knew that. I didn't want him to solve my problem. I just wanted him to feel my pain.
Sometimes I wish I could be less complicated, but it's not in my nature.
And that's not my fault. We women have been complicated since creation.
God made Adam simply, from "the dust of the earth." But He made Eve from Adam's rib, a more complicated process.
We are wonderfully, annoyingly complex by design. We weren't meant to be figured out. We were meant to be loved.
It's as simple as that.
I know I annoy him, sometimes, Father, because I look at life so differently. Give him the wisdom to understand me and the patience to endure.
Excerpted from Heavenly Humor for the Woman's Soul by Michelle Medlock Adams, Martha Bolton, Patsy Clairmont, Debora M. Coty, Dena Dyer, Karon Phillips Goodman, Tina Krause, Marilyn Meberg, Helen Widger Middlebrooke, Anita Renfroe, Ramona Richards, Toni Sortor, Rachel St. John-Gilbert. Copyright © 2008 Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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