By Linda C. Stafford
I don't usually do Christian stuff, but I thought this was cute.
My husband and I had been happily (most of the time)
married for five years but hadn't been blessed with a baby. I decided
to do some serious praying and promised God that if he would give us
a child, I would be a perfect mother, love it with all my heart and
raise it with his word as my guide.
God answered my prayers and blessed us with a son.
The next year God blessed us with another son.
The following year, he blessed us with yet another son.
The year after that we were blessed with a daughter.
My husband thought we'd been blessed right into poverty.
We now had four children, and the oldest was only four years old.
I learned never to ask God for anything unless I meant
it. As a minister once told me, "If you pray for rain, make sure
you carry an umbrella."
I began reading a few verses of the Bible to the children
each day as they lay in their cribs. I was off to a good start. God
had entrusted me with four children and I didn't want to disappoint
I tried to be patient the day the children smashed
two dozen eggs on the kitchen floor searching for baby chicks.
I tried to be understanding when they started a hotel for homeless frogs
in the spare bedroom, although it took me nearly two hours to catch
all twenty-three frogs.
When my daughter poured ketchup all over herself and
rolled up in a blanket to see how it felt to be a hot dog, I tried to
see the humor rather than the mess.
In spite of changing over twenty-five thousand diapers,
never eating a hot meal and never sleeping for more than thirty minutes
at a time, I still thank God daily for my children.
While I couldn't keep my promise to be a perfect mother
- I didn't even come close -
I did keep my promise to raise them in the Word of God. I knew I was
missing the mark just a little when I told my daughter we were going
to church to worship God, and she wanted to bring a bar of soap along
to "wash up" Jesus, too.
Something was lost in the translation when I explained
that God gave us everlasting life, and my son thought it was generous
of God to give us his "last wife."
My proudest moment came during the children's Christmas
pageant. My daughter was playing Mary, two of my sons were shepherds,
and my youngest son was a wise man.
This was their moment to shine.
My five-year-old shepherd had practiced his line, "We
found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes." But he was nervous
and said, "The baby was wrapped in wrinkled clothes."
My four-year-old "Mary" said, "That's
not 'wrinkled clothes,' silly. That's 'dirty, rotten clothes'."
A wrestling match broke out between Mary and the shepherd and was stopped
by an angel, who bent her halo and lost her left wing.
I slouched a little lower in my seat when Mary dropped
the doll representing Baby Jesus, and it bounced down the aisle crying,
"Mama-mama." Mary grabbed the doll, wrapped it back up and
held it tightly as the wise men arrived.
My other son stepped forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown, knelt
at the manger and announced, "We are the three wise men, and we
are bringing gifts of gold, common sense and fur."
The congregation dissolved into laughter, and the pageant
got a standing ovation. "I've never enjoyed a Christmas program
as much as this one," Father Brian laughed, wiping tears from his
eyes. "For the rest of my life, I'll never hear the Christmas story
without thinking of gold, common sense and fur."
"My children are my pride and my joy and my greatest
blessing," I said as I dug through my purse for an aspirin.
Added August 1, 2004
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