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Heavenly Humor for the Mother's Soul
By Barbour Publishing
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Motherhood Isn't for Wimps: Encouragement
The Ponytail Express
"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
Matthew 10:30 NASB
Emily Kathryn, come here right now!" Mother shouted.
My four-year-old sister, Kathy, ran into Mother's bedroom. She stopped short when she saw me perched on the vanity stool, tears pouring down my cheeks.
"Look at what you've done." Mother raked her fingers through the spikes of what had once been my long blond hair. "Why did you cut off your sister's ponytail?"
Kathy looked up with the wide-eyed innocence only a child can produce. She pulled her hand from behind her back. The blond ponytail, still held intact by the rubber band, dangled from her tiny fingers, confirming her guilt.
"Because I got a spanking and Jannie didn't." Her matter-of-fact tone revealed her childish logic.
"Well, young lady," Mother said, "you're about to get another one!" She glared down at her older daughter and turned back to me, Kathy's three-year-old victim. "What are we going to do with this?"
I recall my easily tangled hair had once been the bane of my mother's existence. I was so tender headed that I cried if she hit a snag. One day she pulled my hair back and wrapped a rubber band around it. She was so proud of her discovery of protecting my hair from tangle attacks that one would've thought she invented the ponytail.
She learned early in my childhood that brushing my hair put me to sleep. That is, of course, if she was first able to untangle the knots the West Texas wind tied in each strand.
"It's nap time, sweetie," she'd say in a soft voice.
"No!" I'd wail. Yes, I was sleepy and needed a nap, but there were games to play, cartoons to watch, and an older sister to pester.
"Okay, Jannie." She only pretended to give up. "Let's watch the cartoons while I brush your hair."
I sat on her lap while she combed through the snarls first with gentle strokes. Then soft bristles pulled through my hair, massaging my scalp. Soon Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd faded into a blur, and I unwittingly gave in to sleep.
I barely remember sitting on my mother's vanity chair—a crying three-year-old with spikes poking straight out from the back of my head. Mother resolved my hairy challenge by giving me a cute pink hat to wear until my hair grew back.
It's comforting to know that the Lord counts each strand on our heads—even the spiky ones.
Batteries Not Included
And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people.
Genesis 28:3 KJV
My children recently received a bubble-blowing machine as a gift. Emblazoned across the package was the all-too-familiar phrase, "Batteries Not Included." No worries. The gift-giver had been thoughtful enough to include them. What the package failed to mention, however, is that there was also no screwdriver included. Turns out that the makers of such toys assume such a common tool is likely to be available in a home where young children reside. The problem was that we weren't at home.
So the search began. Several well-intentioned teens began rummaging through the house for something—anything—that would open this bubble-blowing wonder. What they came up with was an object that was apparently not meant to be used as a screwdriver. So now the bubble blower is stashed into a closet, screws stripped, and unable to be removed until some creative person figures out a way to get them out.
We also discovered that batteries are not the only thing absent from children's toys. Did you know that lightbulbs are also sometimes excluded? Really, they are! For my daughter's birthday, she received a candy jewelry maker, and we set out to make a sweet treat for her younger sister who wasn't feeling well. I hope the thought counted, because the actual necklace was not meant to be. You see, there was "No lightbulb included." Of course, it wasn't a typical 60-watt lightbulb that everyone should have in the home. No, this bulb would take a concentrated effort to purchase and install. Thus the candy maker claimed its place beside the bubble blower in the closet.
As I've pondered all of these tricks that manufacturers use to get us to part with our hard-earned dollars, I am struck by the direct contrast this is to God. James 1:17 (KJV) tells us, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above." And guess what! "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19 KJV).
As I write this, I am thinking about our precious seventh baby, whom we recently discovered will join us soon. Already I receive many comments from strangers—some positive, some full of disbelief, and, quite frankly, some very rude. (I wonder what they would have thought of Gideon's seventy sons.) Most often, though, they just say, "How do you do it?" My answer is simply, "The way any Christian parent should—whether they have one child or a dozen." I realize that these children are precious gifts from God, and unlike toymakers who exclude important parts of the product, God will provide all I need to care for and raise these little ones for Him.
Other People's Kids
And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.
2 Chronicles 20:13 KJV
Let's face it. It can be difficult for young children to sit through a church service. It is a learning process that, when handled properly, can lead to well-mannered children who love to attend church. That process does take time, though, and there are some people who simply don't understand that. There was a time I would have been among them.
Now I'm not really sure why I believed my own kids would sit perfectly still and sweetly pay attention to the pastor. It had never been my strength as a child, in spite of the fact that my pastor was also my dad. Still, I had this vision of my own little angels who, if they did happen to get out of line, could quickly be brought back under control by a snap of the fingers or a stern look. It didn't take me long to discover that those disciplinary measures are really not the type that will get their attention long enough to create a noticeable change in behavior. Therefore I try not to be terribly judgmental about other people's kids.
Actually I'm more apt to find the situation quite comical. I also now understand why many parents provide drawing tablets and pens for their children. So when my friends' children filed into a pew equipped with crayons and coloring books I thought, What a great idea! Crayons tend to be somewhat quieter than the scratch of pencils or the click of pens. Not only that, a page in a coloring book takes a bit longer to complete than a quick sketch on a spiral-bound notebook, which when completed is noisily turned to the next page. It didn't occur to me that children prefer their coloring pages to be spread flat. If the page of choice does happen to be left in the book while the young artist is at work, it will surely be removed upon completion.
I'm not sure which was the case in one particular instance. All I know is that at the exact moment that the song service ended and right before the message was to begin—at that brief interlude of time when silence generously fills the auditorium—a slow, resounding R-I-I-I-P echoed across the room. Immediately the young girl received a look of horror from her father (who, by the way, had to stand before the congregation and deliver the message that evening). Meanwhile, the girl's mother, her face a shade of mortified red, made her way from the piano to her seat.
Now perhaps there were those who scowled and wondered why those parents who were so active in church couldn't get their kids under control. For the most part people reacted with grins. Of course there were those who had trouble controlling outright laughter because they were just so glad it was someone else's kid—this time.
What we need to realize is that God wants families to be in church together, and families include children. All kids have to be trained how to behave in church, and the only place to teach them this behavior is in church—in spite of the glares received from those with "perfect" children.
The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:33–34 NIV
Dramatic is not a word I would use to describe myself. I like being quietly effective in the background of life. Change is something I like to plan for, and work toward, step by step.
However, as I gazed in the mirror the morning of my thirty-fifth birthday, I realized nature's changes were marching forward without my consent. Pesky gray strands were sprouting at odd spots, warning of more to come. I decided maybe it was time to try coloring my hair. I called and added color to my upcoming cut and style appointment. Since I was only going to cover the gray, I didn't mention it to anyone. I would just wait and see if it was even noticeable.
After cautioning my stylist against any dramatic changes, she suggested I try auburn, a shade lighter than my natural dark brown. Auburn sounded nice. And, I had read that once the gray starts, our skin tone changes with it. The most natural look, the article said, would come from selecting a color lighter than my youthful shade had been.
With reassurances that I would love the subtle change and the healthy shine that coloring would add, I relaxed and let my stylist take over. When I looked at the result in the mirror, I saw red, not just a slight auburn shade change. I asked my stylist if she thought my hair turned out a bit too red. She waved away my concerns and again assured me I would get many compliments on the subtle change.
On the way home, glancing in the rearview mirror, I noticed my hair seemed even more reddish in natural light. I was almost in tears by the time I arrived home. The woman in the mirror didn't look like the real me. What would people say when they saw my hair?
As I stepped out of my minivan, my ten-year-old, Joseph, came running up. He stopped abruptly with a surprised look. Before I knew what was happening, he climbed on top of our picnic table and began to sing the theme song from Annie. Joseph belted out,
"The sun'll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
There'll be sun!
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!"
He confirmed that my subtle auburn glinted red in the sunshine—enough that he was reminded of Little Orphan Annie. However, that song reminded me of the passage in Matthew where the Lord tells us not to worry about tomorrow. I shouldn't worry about what others might say or think. The color of my hair wasn't what defined me as a Christian. I knew that the Lord was only concerned about what was in my heart and not what was on my head.
After applauding my dramatic son, I said with sincerity, "Thank you, Joseph. That's just what I needed to hear!"
When Your Ship Comes In
"Watch out! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven."
Matthew 6:1 NLT
One hot August day my daughters helped me pick the garden and can fifteen pints of sweet pickles and six pints of dilled beans. We also cut up eight quarts of cucumbers to soak in lime while my oldest son juiced a bushel of tomatoes that I made into juice and barbecue sauce.
During this strenuous day, I kept reminding myself that the virtuous woman "brings her food from afar." When I go to great lengths in working for what my family needs, I am following Lady Virtue's example. I admit, I gave myself this pep talk to stave off is-it-worth-it? thoughts.
At dinner that night, I asked the children, "What do you think Proverbs 31:14 means when it says that the virtuous woman is like merchants' ships, bringing her food from afar?" I wanted them to know that hard work honors scriptural principles, but I admit I had another motive—I craved admiration from them.
Nathan, my teen, answered, "Maybe it means her family looks forward to her meals."
His insight cut me short. I had mistakenly focused on the ship and the trip—my long voyage to exhaustion and back. He probably captured the primary emphasis of the verse by seeing himself on the shore, waiting with anticipation and appetite.
When we Proverbs 31 mothers work to provide for our family, we envision what they will need and enjoy. Thus we create meals worth waiting for, whether they be homegrown and made from scratch, gourmet cooked with expensive ingredients, or store bought and microwaved with love. Will they think to pat us on the back? Not as much as we deserve or desire. However, if we produce something inferior or late or skip a day, we'll get plenty of response. Our children will stand on the dock with megaphones to voice their disappointment.
But Jesus said that if we labor for admiration from others, we will get only that. Seeking earthly rewards sabotages eternal ones! Instead, we can please God by humbly serving our family, even though the work seems hard and endless. When our ship docks at Home Port after our excursion on earth, we want to hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." That will make all our efforts worthwhile.
Bon voyage and bon appétit!
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. I
Samuel 17:48–49 NIV
My daughters have always had overactive imaginations. They loved to play make-believe when they were children and could entertain themselves for hours with made-up stories. One of my favorites was a play they created when my oldest was in junior high. They called it Fantasyland. In this whimsical tale, they were princesses who lived in a castle. Their lives were idealistic and fun. Nothing bad ever happened. Well, nothing really bad anyway.
They loved this story so much that they decided to videotape it. And though all of my daughters are now grown and married and have kids of their own, I keep a copy on hand, for posterity's sake. As I watch the video of my daughters and their friend, Karen, dancing around in their frilly princess-like costumes, singing the little Fantasyland song they wrote to go along with the play, I'm struck by how much their "make-believe" tale resonates with me. How many times have I wished I could live in a place where problems didn't exist? Where I could hide in a make-believe castle and wait for a knight on a white horse to save me? Oh, for such a place! A haven! A retreat! I would race across the drawbridge, over the crocodile-infested moat, and into the safety of the interior where nothing could harm me! Yes, there have surely been times I've longed to escape to a place where I could be safe from harm.
How are you in this area, Mom? Do you wish you could run from your problems? Pretend they didn't exist? Maybe you're facing financial woes ... calls from bill collectors. Or perhaps you're dealing with the illness or death of a parent or friend. Maybe you're struggling with your children, one in particular. His grades aren't what you'd hoped. He's not getting along with his friends or siblings. Perhaps your spouse doesn't understand you. He thinks you're blowing things out of proportion. Maybe you wish you could climb into bed and pull the covers over your head and "imagine" your problems away.
Excerpted from Heavenly Humor for the Mother's Soul by Barbour Publishing. Copyright © 2011 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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