“Grrr...,” thought Annie. “Why do I have to look after all three of these brats?”
For the millionth time, she wondered why God had made her the oldest in a busy family, and even worse, the only girl. Sure, Mom was busy, and had to help keep the poultry houses going and productive. Their living depended largely on that, even though Dad was still able to work full-time. If his back condition continued to worsen, even that might change.
Still, she couldn’t help thinking how nice it would be to have a life like most of her girlfriends. She heard them talk about painting their toenails, trying new hairstyles, and spending hours on the phone. She couldn’t imagine free time like that!
“Oh well, no need to dwell on it”, she decided, as she pulled Billy and Ronnie apart, and promptly divided the blocks they were fighting over. She couldn’t help smiling as they both grinned and scooted closer to her. Danny was content to work with the model car that was his latest project. They really were kind of cute. “God, help me to be patient and love them more.”
Time moved on, and Annie found herself in high school, but with much the same persistent problem - three little brothers! Now, it seems, she has to help them get ready for school, help them onto the school bus, then keep track of things that came up during the day. Just a few days into the semester, there was that incident with Ronnie misbehaving on the bus; and after the driver had given him a stern lecture, Annie literally dragged him off in front of their house. “How embarrassing! Come on, boys! Can’t you do any better than that?” At her outburst, Ronnie dropped his head, and she saw big tears rolling down his cheeks. Reluctantly, she dried them away, gave him a quick hug, and said, “If you promise not to act up again, maybe we just don’t need to tell Mom.” His brown eyes brightened, Danny and Billy breathed a sigh of relief, and they all went inside for their usual after-school snack. Annie prayed for patience one more time.
Only a few more years had passed since her high school days, but Annie was married, with two small children of her own. Their favorite playmates were her “little” brothers, now not so little at all.
Mom’s sudden and tragic death brought all their lives into a new stage. It was heartbreaking to see Danny in his quiet grief, and Ronnie and Billy, still in high school, devastated, confused, and Dad, so unable to cope with it all. Anna found herself saying often, “Okay, guys, we can deal with this. Mom has always taught us that God is with us. She wants us to hang together and move on.”
Because of an understanding husband, Christian friends and counselors, and the supernatural touch of God Himself, Anna was able to move on, and so were Dad and the boys.
Years rolled away, scenes changed, as all three “bratty’ brothers became men, married, and had kids of their own (all boys except one). The marvelous thing was that Billy and Ronnie had both become ministers, and served God faithfully in the church. Danny was an army chaplain with perhaps the deepest dedication of them all.
Now they all came to visit at Annie’s house, since it had become their center of family activities. They were now a very large group. They came. They slept. They ate. They bathed. They stayed up late at night, keeping everybody awake, talking, laughing, watching TV.
“Grrr...”, thought Annie, “Why do I have to take care of all three of these.....” Then it all came into focus, and she laughed out loud as she sorted another pile of laundry.
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