"My Lord," I pray, "I live to serve You. "Speak clearly, to me please," so that I may learn and do Your will." I ponder in the blessed silence after the benediction, truly pouring my heart into my
petition. Almost too soon the pastor interrupts my pleading conversation.
The service is ended with announcements including something about a parenting class, an Easter egg hunt, all the stuff we'd find in the bulletin, and yada, yada, yada. I look at my watch thinking of everything else I have to get done today. Church was finally over; I could get on with the rest of my life.
My boys come out of their Sunday School classes with great exuberance, each vying for my attention to impress me with what they had learned. "Jesus died when a guard stuck a spear in his side," announces Jacob.
"Huh uh," Emmanuel cuts in. "He was already dead when that happened."
"That's not what my teacher told me, you idiot!" the indignant 5 year old Jacob jibes.
"OK boys," I say, exasperated within the first three minutes of picking them up, "Enough already!"
The argument continues in the car, accelerating from who's teacher is the smartest, to name-calling, and shoving.
"You two knock it off, before I knock your heads together!" I say with an oath. "You are both going straight to your rooms when we get home."
Finally realizing I mean business, they pout sullenly in the back seat until we pull in the driveway.
I go around to the passenger side to secure that door, and see the bulletin Jacob had taken from me at the church. I notice in big black letters on the back "Parenting Classes." I don't think anything of it as I head into the house, closing the front door which the boys had left wide open.
Jacob and Emmanuel start running and screeching through the house. Jacob was squalling, "Gimme that back!"
Emmanuel taunts, "Come get it."
I catch a running Jacob as he rounds the corner between the kitchen and dining room. "Both of you go to your rooms now," I holler. "You're both a
couple of spoiled snots."
"Lord, what I wouldn't give just for a little quiet time," I mutter passing the bulletin on the kitchen table. "Hmmm." I quizzically think to myself, "I thought I left that in the car." I pick it up to throw in the trash as the bold lettering on the back of the bulletin again catches my attention. I pause a moment to skim the section on parenting classes. "Like I have the time," I scoff sarcastically, and let it slip from my fingers and float to the trash can.
Meanwhile the boys are opening their doors long enough to insult the other, then slamming them shut before the other can inflict his abuse.
I stomp up the stairs throwing open each of the doors, and serve a good hard three smacks on each of their bottoms. I slam the doors as the wailing
echoes behind me.
"I wanna go live with Daddy," Emmanuel sobs, and Jacob is mumbling and crying uncontrollably.
I slump against the wall at the bottom of the stairwell as a flood bursts from my own eyes. "Lord, I didn't ask to be a single parent. You've left me so alone." I accuse, then angrily question. "What is it that you'd have me do?”
With blurry vision I notice the church bulletin on the counter. "I thought I threw that away," I mutter, taken aback. I cautiously approach the bulletin, as if it has a life of it's own and read:
"Does it seem like your children are out of control, and often times you act out toward them in anger? Do you feel like you are parenting alone in a society that teaches us to put our own needs first? If so this class is for you. Learn the principles of bringing children up with loving discipline as modeled for us in scripture."
"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward."
"Hmph," I snort. "I wonder what I did wrong to deserve this kind of 'reward'." Then I recall my quiet time earlier in the day. "Is this what you are asking of me Lord?" I whisper quietly. I ponder the days “coincidences” many minutes in the semi-silence. The only sounds are my children sniffling behind closed doors. My heart aches with a sudden need for accountability. I know what I have to do.
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