Gloria Stephenson stared in shock as the preacher’s wife drew what appeared to be pornography on the dry erase board. Two dozen women were crowded around the board yelling and jumping up and down. Gloria frowned. She didn’t think this was appropriate behavior for a baby shower.
“Labor,” a tall, thin women yelled.
“Gynecological exam,” a shorter, rounder woman hollered with enthusiasm.
The preacher’s wife, Laura, shook her head rapidly and kept drawing, adding details to what Gloria considered an obscene picture. She was shocked when Katie, her very pregnant daughter and baby shower honoree, jumped up from her seat, threw her arms in the air, and shouted “episiotomy!”
“Yes!” Laura exclaimed. The right side of the room erupted into cheers.
This was not how Gloria had envisioned her first grandchild’s baby shower. It was bad enough that her daughter and son-in-law had moved from the large city where they were both raised to this small town after their wedding, but then they “got saved”. The new couple spent much of their free time going to church and doing God knew what.
Gloria looked around the room and sighed. Things here were not as sophisticated as she was accustomed. Instead of an elegant catered affair, this was a casual pot luck in a church classroom. The ladies had put considerable effort into the event, decorating the room with streamers and balloons, but Gloria disapproved of the paper plates and silly games. She wondered if all church parties were like this.
After the ladies hooted and hollered through the game of baby pictionary, the host of the party stood in front of the room and addressed the giddy women. “We have enjoyed getting to know Jeff and Katie since they joined our church. It’s clear they love the Lord and love each other. Those of us who have children know that kids can make it difficult to keep the spice and passion alive in a marriage. Jeff and Katie are such a cute couple. We’d never want that to happen to them, so we’ve pitched in and bought them a present.”
Gloria and Katie looked over their shoulders to see two women enter the room holding opposite ends of a long metal pole. The room erupted into laughter. “What? What is it?” Gloria was confused.
When Katie could catch her breath she said, “Mom, it’s a, um, stripper pole. You know, for dancing....for your husband.”
Gloria glanced nervously at the preacher’s wife and a few of the older ladies at the shower, but they were laughing with the rest of the group. She’d never really mixed with religious people before, but this was not what she expected. The ladies from the Junior Service League never acted like this.
After the crowd quieted down, another lady whose name tag read “Marge” stood up with a worn Bible in her hands. “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you, Isaiah 66:13,” Marge began. She read more verses and shared a message for Katie. Marge then asked everyone to gather around Katie and Gloria. The ladies surrounded the mother and daughter and laid their hands on them and prayed. Gloria was very uncomfortable. The prayer ended and the ladies hugged Katie as they wiped their misty eyes.
“Time for presents!” one of the ladies joyfully announced. The quiet group immediately erupted into a dozen lively conversations. Gloria couldn’t keep up as this schizophrenic group switched between moods.
Katie began opening her presents and Gloria neatly recorded each gift and giver in Katie’s baby book. Whenever Katie lifted a present for all to see, the visiting and laughter stopped and the women simultaneously said, “Oooooh” or “Ahhhhh.” Then as quickly as it had ended, the chatter resumed.
As Gloria wrote, she listened to bits and pieces of the conversations around her. She was amazed that these ladies were so candid with each other. They weren’t discussing the weather. They were sharing their frustrations, shortcomings and beliefs. No topic seemed off limits, and they covered sex, marriage, children, politics, and religion. They laughed together about their common frustrations and offered encouragement and support.
That evening after the shower, Gloria and her husband started the long drive back home. Gloria was quiet as she thought about the party. Suddenly she burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” her husband asked.
“I was thinking about Katie’s baby shower. Those ladies were crude, loud, emotional and lacked discretion.”
“And I’ve never had so much fun.”
Isaiah 66:13 (NIV)
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