Jenny ran up the steps and rang the doorbell--once, twice, three times—holding down the button a little longer with each push. Her little dog, Jumper, erupted in a frenzy of barking on the other side of the door.
“Where’s Mom?” Jenny thought as she dug in her backpack for her house key. She quickly unlocked the door and greeted the wriggling Jumper.
“Mom, where are you?” called Jenny.
“Lying down in the bedroom,” her mother called weakly.
As Jenny entered the bedroom she was disappointed to see her mother on the bed, curled in a ball and still wearing her rumpled pajamas. She looked sad and pale. It must be another one of her mother’s “bad days.” Lately the bad days had been coming far too often.
“Mom, I had a great day at school. We played softball during P.E. and I hit a home run. The weather was beautiful! I think spring is finally here. Have you been in bed all day? Why don’t you open the shade and enjoy the sunshine?”
“I don’t feel well, Jenny--the sun hurts my eyes,” sighed her mother. “Why don’t you run along now and do your homework. I’m going to try and sleep some until your father gets home from work. Tell him that he’s going to have to make dinner tonight--I’m just not up to it…”
“Hmmm,” thought Jenny as she plopped down at the dining room table and began spreading out her homework, “she’s never ‘up to it’ anymore. Well, I wonder from which fast food restaurant we’ll get dinner this time?”
A few minutes later Jenny heard the garage door open. Dad was home!
Jenny’s father walked in from the garage. “How’s my Pumpkin? Did you have a good day?” Dad asked before planting a noisy kiss in the middle of her forehead.
“Oh, I had good day until I got home. Mom’s still in bed…again! --And she says you need to fix dinner.” Jenny frowned. “Dad, I sure wish things were different around here. I’m so tired of Mom being ‘sick’ all the time!”
“I know, Honey,” Dad sighed, “but you know the doctor says it may take some time before the medication and counseling help with the depression--”
“—If they ever do!” exclaimed Jenny. “I just want her well--NOW! Having Mom depressed makes me depressed--and angry! I’m so mad I could hit somebody!”
Dad wrapped his arms around his daughter and hugged her tight. “Let’s pray for Mom—and us—right now. I get depressed and angry about Mom, too, but I’ve found when I pray, Jesus helps me feel better by giving me peace and hope. Let’s picture Jesus right here with us while we pray.”
Jenny and Dad took turns praying for Mom and each other. Jenny did feel better when they were finished. “Dad,” Jenny said with a smile, “I think I could feel Jesus’ arms around me!”
“Hey, that’s great! Jenny, let’s do something different for dinner tonight--” said Dad, “we’ll make pizza and you can put any kind of topping you want on yours.”
After making the pizza and sitting on the edge of the bed to eat it with Mom, Dad and Jenny returned to the dining room. “Dad, I have an idea how to cheer us up,” Jenny said as she put her homework away in her backpack.
“What’s that, Honey?” Dad said as he looked up from the mail.
“I’m going to start a ‘joy journal’! Yes--I’ll call it ‘Jenny’s Joy Journal’… Every day I’m going to look for God’s blessings and write them down in my journal. –And when you get home each day, you can tell me how God has blessed you, and I’ll add those things to my journal, too. --Then I can read the list of blessings to Mom at dinner time to cheer her up! What do you think of that, Dad?”
“That sounds fine, Jenny—just fine. That is what gives us joy, you know—God’s blessings. When are you going to start this journal?”
“Right now! Let’s see, ‘One: Today was a beautiful sunny day. Two: Dad and I prayed and we felt Jesus hold us in His arms. Three: Dad helped me make pizza and I put olives, dill pickles and hot dogs on mine! Four: Mom ate a piece of MY pizza! Five: I started ‘Jenny’s Joy Journal’ and I already have five blessings to share with Mom!’”
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