Honey Mustard and Little Girl Prayers

(apologies to Bob Carlisle)

Psalm 127, 128

Driving through the flat-lands of the Texas panhandle, we were on our way to Missouri for a family vacation before I started my new job. Kimberly had packed a lunch with makings for her favorite sandwiches, ham and swiss on wheat with honey mustard. She LOVED honey mustard.  She fixed everyone a sandwich, then her own. About two bites into the sandwich she shook her head. “Nuh uh.  That’s not good.”  I could tell she was getting nauseated. “Do I need to pull over?” She shook her head in the affirmative. Afterward, we pressed on and enjoyed our two weeks in Missouri and Arkansas. She didn’t eat honey mustard for a year after that, though.

honey mustard

I clearly remember the night, just a few weeks earlier, when my two daughters, Amber and Alyssa, told their mom they wanted a little brother. The girls were ages five and seven, and every night their mother prayed with them before bedtime. They sat on their beds and informed her they wanted a brother.  She curtly replied, “Well, you’ll have to talk to God about that.” They took her instruction to heart and simply prayed, “Dear God, please give us a baby brother. Amen.”

Kimberly’s lack of enthusiasm may sound harsh, but she had endured long labor to get those two into the world.  With Amber, her labor was 28 hours, and with Alyssa, it was 26. Although she managed to shorten the second one, she still wasn’t too thrilled at the prospect of doing it again.  She often rebutted the old saying, “Once you see that baby, you forget all about the pain.”  Her eyes would get steely and she would say, “That’s not true. I remember, and it hurt!” In addition, raising two kids who are only 18 months apart can be quite draining.

After Alyssa was born, my mother-in-law urged my wife, “Oh…you’re not going to have any more, are you?” That statement was a validation of Kimberly’s agony in childbirth and a concern for our financial status.  Kimberly was born into a family where everyone had two kids, period (except for a rebel uncle in Colorado). Money was tight, to be sure, so I never pressed the issue.  At my younger daughter’s birth, however, the doctor asked my wife about a previous conversation. “Now, you wanted a tubal ligation, right? Are you sure you don’t want any more children?” I started to answer, feeling confident I knew how Kimberly felt.  As I was opening my mouth, she said, “No. Don’t do it.” I was stunned.

Six years after Alyssa’s birth, I was having my morning Bible reading in my office. I read Psalm 127 and Psalm 128. Secretly, I was still hoping for a son, so I wrote down those scriptures. The next day, I received a call from Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch. They wanted to offer me a position as a full-time chaplain. I thought that must be the way God was going to give me sons, 450 of them.

Six weeks later, and after our vacation, I was on duty with my new congregation.  Kimberly was certain she was coming down with the flu, so she made a doctor’s appointment. She knew she couldn’t be pregnant because the tell-tale sign was absent. With the girls, she didn’t want coffee. That was not the case now. Sure enough, her nausea and aching back were not caused by the flu but by the fetus. She later told the girls, “Well, I guess your prayers worked. You’re going to have a baby brother.” I went back to my journal and ciphered the date; she had already conceived by the time I read those verses. God was giving me a son, my son.

Let me be clear, I absolutely love my little girls. I often tried to give their mom a break by helping them get dressed and doing their hair for school in the morning. “Daddy, that’s not how mommy does it.” I just kept going. “I know, but this is a Daddy pony-tail.” We also had Daddy breakfasts, Daddy dances, and Daddy dates. The night before Kimberly was scheduled for induced labor, we made it a point to take the girls out to eat dinner and watch Disney’s “Aladdin.”

My wife was indeed a fruitful vine.  (She often referred to herself as “Fertile Myrtle.”) My children surround my table now, like olive plants, accompanied by their own families. They are all active in their churches, and so my quiver is full of sharp arrows. I often think back to that first sign of my son’s impending arrival – in fact, every time I have a ham and swiss on wheat with honey mustard.



Published in: on March 28, 2018 at 2:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

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