I can’t believe I’m going to say this.
I have NOTHING interesting to blog about!
Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
I’ve been working furiously on a project that I can’t tell you about yet, and that’s been keeping me super busy the last few days. Also dealing with sick munchkins running fevers. They aren’t hurling, just having crazy high temps that scare me to death. (It’s a virus running around our school.) Marker Man is on day 3 of being home. He LOVES it. Mama? Notsomuch.
So today, instead of blogging about weight loss, I’m going to give you an excerpt of the book I’ve written but done NOTHING with. It’s called “My Thinking Cap Ran out of Batteries.” And it’s about parenting. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m going to give you a full chapter, because to break it up would just be awful. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy Chapter 4.
Picture this. It’s a Saturday morning, at 9:30 am (make a mental note of that). A 4 year old boy named Tim is bored. I mean really, really bored. His room is a disaster, and he can’t find any of his good toys. Picking up your room isn’t any fun, either. There’s no way he’s telling his mom that he’s bored, or she will give him a job. And her jobs aren’t fun at all. She’d probably tell him pick up his room! So, left to his own devices, Tim scours the house to find something interesting to do.
“I could make cookies! That would be fun!”
Off to the kitchen he races. What goes into cookies? Flour, eggs, some bread and water. That sounds right. He starts with the water. It’s easy, since he is an expert at getting water. Mom and dad always make him get his own water at bedtime. Tim fills a plastic bowl with water and sets it down on the floor. Check!
The most important ingredient? Eggs. As silently as he can, he gets 3 eggs out of the fridge, carrying them one by one to the only blind spot in the kitchen. Behind the island. Tim knows it’s better if the cookies are a surprise. Otherwise mom might say no, and he is just getting to the good part! Besides, it’s much easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. Now, how should you crack eggs? Mom always hits them on a bowl. Maybe a cookie chef could use the floor. That should work. Whoopsey-doodle-doo! That wasn’t supposed to happen! Let’s try again. Same problem. Did you know that when you smash an egg on the floor, it’s too slippery to put in the bowl? So the last egg should just get broken right into the bowl. That worked much better. Guess the shell just stays in there. Maybe that’s why cookies are crunchy.
Moving on to the flour. Flour feels just like sand. If you put it on the floor, you could make a sand castle! Dumping out the entire canister of flour onto the floor, Tim realizes that he has hit a snag. The flour is sticking to the floor like glue….but why? Maybe because he didn’t wipe up the eggs yet.
Better get some paper towels. Looking at the size of the mess that making cookies created, it’s gonna take a whole roll. So he un-winds an entire roll of brand new paper towels, and tries to wipe up the mess. Some of the flour is still dry, and the powder won’t stick to the paper towels. Maybe the paper towels would work better if they were wet!
So he pours out the bowl of water (and soggy bread and 1 crunched up egg) onto the unraveled paper towels. Great. This is not turning out like he had planned. This is gonna make mom pretty mad.
Tim better find something else to do.
So he heads to his bedroom, leaving a trail of eggy-floury footprints behind him.
His room is still a mess. Darn. He should have picked it up already, then he could find something to do. His eyes catch something that could be fun, almost hiding under the bed. An inkpad! He remembers how hard it was to sneak it in his room without looking suspicious. He had to hide it in his underwear. Now, it was all worth it. There are lots of great things you can do with an inkpad. You just have to use paper. Where’s the paper? Why is this room such a mess? He looks everywhere he can for just one little piece, but it’s a lost cause. There’s no paper in sight. Suddenly, a stroke of genius! There is wall paper on his bedroom wall, and technically, it’s paper. So he gets down to business. If you use your fingers on the inkpad, you can write your name on the wall. T-I-N. No, that’s not right. t-I-M. That’s better, but it has to be a big T. At least that’s what his pre-school teacher told him. Well, third time’s a charm. T-I-M. HOORAY!!! That’s perfect! What other words are easy to spell?
The time is now 9:33 am, and I (the mom) have finished my shower. I feel refreshed after my five minute scrub, ready to tackle a new day. I wasn’t disturbed by children this time. No one sang “Rain, rain, go away” while I was washing up. No one had a sudden attack of the poopies that make the humid bathroom air toxic. I unlock the bathroom door, chuckling to myself. Our bathroom door has the only lock that Tim hasn’t learned to pick, and it is the last sanctuary in the house.
As I enter the hallway, I notice that my foot feels sticky. What did I step in? I just took a shower, and I know I washed my foot. What the heck is this stuff? I hurry down to the bedroom to get dressed. My foot has some kind of powder on it. Or glue. I can’t figure it out, but I feel a sudden sense of urgency. I put on my clothes (which are conveniently on the floor, within easy reach for such an occasion) as fast as I can. An unidentified substance on the carpet is never a good sign. Following the footprints I look in the kitchen, and all seems well. Until I look behind the island. What the heck happened? I have three guesses as to who made this mess, but I only need one.
I go to Tim’s bedroom to find out what went on. By this time, Tim and his inkpad have become close friends, and as I enter his room he is sitting on the floor putting black ink streaks on his face to make whiskers (to look like a puppy). I look at his wall.
TIN. tIM. TIM. HI.
The Tim-tornado struck again. So much for feeling refreshed.
The Christian radio station I listen to has a commercial that sums it up nicely. It goes “Some days the sun is shining. There’s a full tank of gas in your car. (I like that part!) Your boss is in a good mood. You don’t have to drive the kids anywhere after work… And then, there’s every other day.”
The flour incident was one of the “every other days” in my life. As you probably remember, I am not the most patient person around. I usually blow my stack when I have to deal something like this. Lucky for my son, I was determined to handle this situation with grace and dignity. You know how they tell parents to count to ten when they are angry? Well, I can count to ten in seven different languages. That day, I used them all.
Life is chock full of surprises! Some are really good. Some are really bad. Some don’t make a difference either way. But no matter what we do, life is going to change, and we aren’t always prepared for it. How we handle it is up to us.
The God we serve is a God of surprises. He has a way of bringing us the unexpected and making us better for it in the end. The Lord made the Red Sea split into a salty canyon so the Israelites could run from the pharaoh. He fed 5,000 men, not counting the women and children, with a few loaves of bread and some fish. Even Sarah had a baby at 90. Remember what a shocker that was?
Surprises in life are like pop quizzes. Once it hits, you either pass or fail. It is a true testament to our character. So the real question is: When we are living our lives as Christians, how do we respond to surprises?
We are supposed to react to the situation with the grace of God. Be a good witness. Keep a lid on your temper! Don’t lose your cool, cat!
When I first drafted out this chapter, I was going to talk about Noah, and how he handled the surprise of the flood. After all, some scholars say Noah had never seen rain before. (Tornados, floods…I had a natural disasters theme going.) Then, SURPRISE! While writing about my petite chef, God reminded me of my own childhood cooking experiences, and that brought around a flash back from Sunday school way back in the day. There is a person in my past who was a really cool cat. Someone who was always a good witness, even in the face of adversity. Someone who handled surprises like a pro. She took a bad situation and used it to the glory of God. Her name was Leona Leamons.
When I was in 3rd grade, I moved up to old Mrs. Leamons’ class. She was the strictest Sunday school teacher I ever had. She didn’t sugar coat the word of God like the others. Nope, Mrs. Leamons was a straight shooter when it came to the Bible. Because she loved the imagery and storytelling in the Old Testament, she often talked about wars and murder. . and I thought she was awesome! In her class I learned that God isn’t always a loving God. Sometimes He’s a God who pours out his wrath. “ ‘Vengeance is Mine,’ sayeth the Lord.” (Hebrews 10:30) And He ain’t just whistling Dixie. Anyway, she had this great knack for making the Bible a living, breathing book. You never knew what she was going to teach you, and it wasn’t the flowery stuff. You know- Jesus loves you no matter what you do and as long as you live for Him, nothing bad will ever happen to you. Mrs. Leamons was old school. Fire and Brimstone. Truth and Consequences.
Looking back on it, twenty-five years later, what else could she do? She had a motley crew of a class. I couldn’t keep quiet, Kyle wouldn’t sit down, Jason wasn’t really listening, Joanna listened but was too shy to talk, and Mickey just wanted to braid her hair. Veggie Tales hadn’t hit the scene yet, and we would never think of watching TV in church. Poor Mrs. Leamons had 45 minutes to kill with four ornery kids and a mute. Her only weapons of defense were a stack of enormous King James Bibles and a flannel graph. So, she told us the Bible stories that we’d never heard before and made our eyes pop out of our heads. Mrs. Leamon’s class was like watching a movie that was the perfect blend of Billy Graham and Chuck Norris. Well played, Mrs. Leamons.
One Sunday morning, we came running into our classroom and fought about who got the good folding chair. Mrs. Leamons told us to sit down, because she had food for us. JACKPOT!!! But we had to listen to a Bible story first. Yuck. So we finally settled down (Kyle got the good chair, and it was a waste because he never sat down!) and Mrs. Leamons told us a story from 1st Kings.
“Elijah was a very powerful prophet. He lived under the reign of King Ahab, who was the worst kind of king. Ahab and those living in his kingdom worshipped idols, and mocked the name of the Lord God.” (Imagine four kids going “oooohhhhhhh” and one kid just looking worried, since she wouldn’t talk. We knew from previous stories that mocking God isn’t good.) “Yes, children, King Ahab made the Lord God very angry. So the Lord decided to make King Ahab suffer. He had the prophet Elijah tell Ahab that it would not rain for the next few years, unless Elijah himself told the Lord God to make it rain.” (As farm kids, we knew firsthand what happened when it didn’t rain. Everybody got crabby. Then they got worried. Then, YOU didn’t get very good Christmas presents because the crops were bad. Not having rain is serious.) “After Elijah told the king the news, the Lord God told him to hide in the wilderness, so that no one could find him, and they couldn’t torture him into saying ‘Let it rain.’ So Elijah hid. There, the Lord God caused the ravens to bring him bread and meat in the morning and in the evening. Elijah drank water from the brook. But the brook dried up. Why did the brook dry up, children?”
Like a chorus we answered, “There was no rain.”
“Good. You are listening today. There was no rain. So Elijah had nothing to drink. The Lord God told him: Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.
“ When Elijah gets there, he finds a widow who was gathering sticks. He asks the widow for a drink of water and a piece of bread. The poor widow didn’t have enough for herself, her son and Elijah. So she told him that she only had a handful of flour and a little oil in a jug. She was going to make it for a last meal, because after that, she knew she and her son would die of starvation, which, children, is a miserable way to go.” (See what I mean? Mrs. Leamons gave us the real story!) Reading from 1 Kings 17:18, she continued. “Elijah told her ‘Do not be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.’ Children, do you know what a great act of faith it was for the widow? This man was a stranger to her, and he may have been taking advantage of her. After all, this was the last meal she would make. Why should she give it to a stranger? And she didn’t believe in the good Lord God, either. Why would the God of Elijah give her enough flour and oil to last through the drought when she didn’t even know Him? But children, what I tell you today is true. The widow did exactly as Elijah asked. She made a cake for Elijah with the last of her supplies, and took it to him. Do you know what happened next?” (We were on the edge of our seats. Except Kyle, who never sat down.) “She returned home, and was surprised to find her oil jug was full and her flour jar was too!”
Whew. Good thing for the widow. Otherwise, she may have suffered a miserable death. Now, what did you bring for us to eat?
She brought us a version of what Elijah ate in the story. It was called “Widow’s Cakes for Elijah.” They were tasty too. Most importantly, she typed the recipe on a note card for each one of us. We got to take the recipe home and make it for our family. I made them every chance I got.
The widow in our story got two surprises that day. The first one was pretty bad. Some guy, from who knows where, wanted the last of her food. Can you imagine? I don’t know how I would respond to that. I think I’d walk away. (I can’t even give my husband the last cookie, and I’m in love with him!!!)
The second surprise was great. Her supply didn’t run out. Because she reacted to her surprise in faith, she had her staples for the next three years. She would use the oil and flour to make some cakes, and the jugs and jars would magically fill right back up to the top.
Mrs. Leamons was handed a few surprises. She was teaching a group of rotten kids. I bet there were weeks when she didn’t want to teach our Sunday school class. I’ll even bet some days we made her cry. Yet every Sunday at 10:45 she would march downstairs and give it her all.
The 2nd surprise she never knew about here on earth. Mrs. Leamons passed away before I could ever tell her how much those Sunday morning classes mean to me, as an adult. I recall her graphic and exciting tales that she told us every Sunday. I laugh as I’m telling my kids some of the same stories, and I give them a “Leamon’s squeeze” to make the story memorable. When we all get to heaven, I’m sure people are going to tell stories about the saints of old, and want to hear the tales from a 1st hand perspective, standing in line to sit at Paul’s feet and hear about his conversion. Not me. I’m going to plant myself in front of Mrs. Leamons’ feet and listen to her bring the Good Book to life!
Her final surprise is the witness that she provided for all of her students. She unknowingly taught us two noble qualities. Persistence and resistance. Now that I have rugrats of my own, I know those two characteristics go hand in hand when dealing with kids. Likewise, they come in handy while dealing with the bumps in the road. As Christians, we need to be persistent when we are faced with adversity, and resist the urge to explode when we are pushed to a boiling point.
My Tim-tornado was a bad surprise. It wasn’t fun cleaning it up, and Tim has officially been banned from touching anything in the kitchen unless he has permission. He isn’t even allowed to open up the fridge without supervision.
But the good surprise was on its way. I used the power of God to keep my cool when I saw the mess (and counted in more languages than the apostles on the day of Pentecost). It really confused the boy. Tim knew that he was on thin ice. But mom was strangely quiet. She didn’t yell, she didn’t send anyone to their room; she just sang old hymns as she mopped the floor and scrubbed the cabinets. This made Tim uneasy, and the rest of the day he behaved like a model child. He even went right to bed that night, and didn’t get up and ask for stuff. So it was worth it in the end.
When life gives you a surprise, how do you react? Be honest with yourself and with God. You might be surprised at the answer.
To this day, I still get a hankering for Widow’s Cakes, and occasionally whip up a batch. And I can’t help it…
…I still look in the canister to see if the flour I used miraculously re-appears.
Thanks for reading my first public viewing of "My Thinking Cap Ran Out of Batteries." And make sure to vote on the blogs up for a blog makeover- voting and links are on the top left of this blog. Have a great day kids, and I'll see you tomorrow after bootcamp!