Scene 1: It was around 9:00 a.m. when the phone rang. I was cleaning up the long overdue, smelly kitchen. "Mary," Lilly, the caller, pleaded. "I need you to do something which none of the other pastors' wives ever did."
"What's that," I replied.
"There is a new doctor's family that's just arrived in town and I would like for you to invite them over to your house to eat."
At that particular moment, Benjie, 18 months at that time, had just awakened—stinky, dirty, and hungry—needing food immediately. In the background I heard the dog barking at someone at the door. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Laura, my 4-year old, spilling her milk as she tried to pour it on her cereal.
The last thing I wanted to do was have someone over—particularly when I didn't instigate the invitation! "Oh, Lord, what am I going to do!" was my "911" prayer.
"Lilly," I grudgingly responded, "let me think about it, OK?"
"Well," Lilly urged, "you must make them feel welcome because they are thinking, about settling down here and we want to make a good impression." My animated emotions were high, to say the least. This love-hate relationship I had, privately, with Lilly was overwhelming me, so verbally struck out at the kids.
"Laura," I angrily shouted, "why did you miss the bowl?" "Benjie, you stink." "Oh, me," I sighed, quietly. "What a way to start the day with the Lord." Oh, how I longed to have just one minute of tranquil time set aside to drink in what the Lord had for me that day.
I refused to invite the doctor's family—it was a principle that I considered important—I didn't want to—no one, absolutely no one was going to tell me what I should or shouldn't do. "How dare Lilly," I sputtered in silent disgust. She didn't have small children darting around her feet; dogs barking at the next car that came by; someone knocking at her door all at the same time. I fumed. She lived in a sterile house—no children, no husband (at work all the time), no friends to call, and it seemed to me she delighted in making my life miserable—or so I pondered.
Scene 2: "Oh, Mary, I need the phone number of Sue Sams, do you have that number?" I couldn't help but think that the church member was too lazy to look for her telephone directory.
On the phone again! I hated the phone—wishing I could pull out the cord. Holding injured, whimpering Benjie, now threeyears-old, I was trying to find the neatly put-away phone directory to be gracious on the phone. The dog whizzed past, jerking the phone from my ear. As my grasp loosened, it clacked on the floor. "Oh, Mrs. Fields, sorry about the phone," I said so graciously. After giving Mrs. Fields the phone number, I griped and grouched at the kids again for whatever was irritating me at the time.
Scene 3: "Oh, Mary," husband Ben phoned. "Joe and Lori are here and I thou;2,ht we could have them over for supper. Would that be OK?" Ben rang asking permission (finally learning to call ahead) to bring some of our special friends over from a previous district. "What on earth am I going to do with this house," was my exasperated musing. Looking around the house I saw a dirty, stinky diaper in the toilet; a sink half-filled with water from Laura playing in it; the kitchen piled high with dishes; building blocks, toy cars and trucks, dolls, and riding toys strewn about the house. How could I ever get the house presentable before the company arrived!
"Oh, Lord," frustrated, lonely, exasperated, and desperate was my plea—my 911 prayer again. The Lord impressed me with a thought. I remembered an article had read on how to clean the house in a hurry. Quickly I did the following:
1. I used window cleaner to clean all the sinks, mirrors, and stainless steel kitchen sinks. It made the house smell clean, as well as give a quick shine.
2. The oven—ah, yes. It was empty. All the dirty pots and pans were placed in there. I could clean them later. (Warning: Just remember not to turn the oven on while they are in there.)
3. I enlisted the help of my kids and we found an empty laundry basket and picked up all the toys. We put the basket in the closet until we had more time to separate the toys and put them where they belonged. What team work this teaches.
4. Vacuum—Benjie loved playing with moving "toys" that made noises—I had him help me push the vacuum. Only one room needed vacuuming.
5. I closed the doors to all the rooms in the house I didn't want anyone to see.
6. I sprayed the whole house with air freshener and lit candles. Whoala!
Wow! 911! God is good! You see, He impressed me with these tips from a book and helped me remember them. God is very interested in my day-to-day chores.
I have more time to call Him now, the children are in academy and college. Still, I have those 911 calls!
Scene 4: It's now 1997. My precious cherubs are adults, ages 22 and 18. I actually sometimes long for those days when life was so hectic. My 911 calls are even less frequent but I know the Lord is listening when I call.
"Help, Lord, I'm checking in again. 911!"
"Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am— (Isa. 58:9, NKJV).
"So, Mary, my child," my precious Lord answers, "you're checking in again?"
Then He lovingly laughs! *