the pastor's story file
a resource file for pastors/teachers/speakers
THEME: FAMILY LIFE & KIDS Number 5 — March / 1985
WINNERS — FAMILY LIFE Our first ten stories are the ten top winners in our recent Parables, Etc. contest on the theme of "Family Life In General and Raising Kids in Particular." Each of these ten will receive a one-year extension of their active subscription to The Pastor's Story File or Parables, Etc. (whichever one of their subscriptions is due to run out first, if they subscribe to both).
All the others will each get a four-month extension. Included are a few good stories you can use on Mother's Day or Father's Day — just around the corner.
MOTHER, TOP PAY The kids are fighting. I have my hands over my ears again. It's summer, hot, but fall is coming and winter is closing in. I will spend the days ahead heating soup, dressing Aaron and Micah ten times over for sledding every day, reading Dr. Seuss before their too short naps at noon.
My younger sister, unmarried, will be a vice-president of a leasing company one day soon, my parents say. She spent a recent vacation in Mexico and last week's vacation at some very swank resort on the West Coast. We spent our family vacation on a lake in a little rented cabin, Mark and I teaching the two boys to fish, catching toads and crayfish. I made burgers, vacuumed sand, did laundry by hand. Winter is coming soon.
Oh, dear Lord, I want a job, a job, a sweet, sweet check in hand, value spelled out in dollar signs to match my self-esteem, my pride. When someone asks what I do, I will know what I am paid, my worldly worth. I want a job, I do.
I looked at the ads this morning, Lord, until Aaron, milky from breakfast, insisted himself into my lap, his heart between the pages. "What are you doing, Mama? Do you love me? Read to me out of these pages, Mama. I love you." A chubby hug. How do I tell him: Get down. I want to read the employment ads. I want some other job that pays. This one will not do. You children fight and play too loud and winter is coming soon and no, this will not do. How do I tell him any of that as he sits in my lap?
I want a job, a job that pays. How difficult some days to remember that there are other ways to measure self-esteem than a rectangular paper check. How easy to forget in the classified ads, how sweet to remember as I hug the child in my lap. I have a job, I do, and I am paid, not once a week with processed pulp, but every day. "I love you Mama, I do."
Sometimes, in a world that measures everything in terms of hourly wage, the wealth of words gets very lost indeed. I love you is set on air, lands without a murmur on the heart. The check is concrete in hand. Values are torn apart.
I want a job that pays, Lord. What exactly do I do? How much do I make? "I love you." Words from a small son's heart.
Top pay. I love you guys, too.
by Karen Cavaleri, Submitted by Joseph Townsend, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Knox, Indiana
BECOMING POSSIBLE The teacher asked her class what each wanted to become when they grew up "President," "A Fireman," "A Teacher." One by one they answered until it
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became Billy's time. The teacher asked, "Billy, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
"Possible" Billy responded. "Possible?" asked the teacher. "Yes," Billy said, "my mom is always telling me I'm impossible. When I grow up I want to become POSSIBLE." Submitted by Thomas Sublett, Trinity Lutheran Church, Jacksonville, Florida
LIFT UP YOUR HEAD When my son was a toddler, washing his hair was always a problem. He would sit in the bathtub while I put shampoo on his hair. Then, when I poured on the water to make a lather, he would tip his head down so that the shampoo ran into his eyes, causing pain and tears. I explained that if he just looked straight up at me, he could avoid getting the shampoo in his face. He would agree; then, as soon as I started to rinse his hair, his fear would overcome his trust, and he would look down again. Naturally the shampoo would run into his face again, and there would be more tears.
During one of our sessions, while I was trying to convince him to lift up his head and trust me, I suddenly realized how this situation was like my relationship to God. I know God is my Father, and I'm sure he loves me. I believe that I trust Him, but sometimes, in a difficult situation, I panic and turn my eyes away from Him. This never solves the problem; I just become more afraid, as the "shampoo" blinds me.
Even though my son knew I loved him, he had a hard time trusting me in a panicky situation. I knew I could protect him, but convincing him of that wasn't easy, especially when all he could see was water coming down. His lack of trust hurt me, but it hurt him more. He was the one who had to suffer the pain. I'm sure my lack of trust hurts God very much, but how much more does it hurt me?
Often in the Bible, we are told to lift up our head to God when problems come. He knows how to protect us if we remember to listen to Him. Now, when I find myself in a situation where it would be easy to panic, I picture my son sitting in the bathtub, looking up at me, learning to trust me. Then I ask God what I should do. Sometimes the answer may seem scary, but, one thing I'm sure of — He'll never pour shampoo in my face!
By Jeanette Strong, submitted by Joseph Townsend, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church,
FAMILY LIFE "A family in the East was planning a month's vacation to the West Coast. At the last minute the father's work responsibilities prevented him from going, but Mom insisted that she was capable of driving and that she and the kids would go ahead. Dad got out the maps and planned the route and where the family should stop each night. A couple of weeks later, the father completed his extra work responsibilities. He decided to surprise the family, so he flew to a West Coast city without calling them. Then he took a taxi out into the country on a highway that, according to his travel plan, the family should be driving on later that day. The taxi driver dropped him off on the side of the road. Dad waited there until he saw the family car coming, then stuck out his thumb as a "hitch-hiker." As Mom and the kids drove past, they did a double-take. One of the kids said, "Hey wasn't that Dad?" Mom screeched to a stop, backed up to the "hitch-hiker" and the family had a joyful reunion. Later, when a newspaper reporter asked the man why he would do such a crazy thing, he responded, "After I die, I want my kids to be able to say, 'Dad sure was fun wasn't he?'"
Submitted by Rae Holt, First Baptist Church of Burlingame, California
Copyright 1985 by Saratoga Press. Third-Class postage paid at Saratoga, CA. Published 12 times per year, monthly, for $24.95 (US$) per year. Subscriptions to foreign countries — $30.95 in US$ or equivalent value. Postmaster, please send address changes to The Pastor's Story File c/o Saratoga Press, 14200 Victor Place, Saratoga, CA 95070. PHONE (408) 867 4211
The Pastor's Story File / March, 1985 "Family Life & Kids" Page 3 /5.3
IT'S TOUGH TO BECOME A SAINT Young Brian, age 5, had been told the story of the 'pillar-monk,' Symeon the Stylite, in Sunday School. He was captivated by this Godly man's approach to seeking God's approval. Early Monday morning he decided to imitate Symeon. He placed the kitchen stool on top of the table and climbed to his perilous perch and began his journey toward sainthood. Mother, entering the kitchen, interrupted his holy pilgrimage by explaining, 'Brian, get down off that stool before you break your neck.' Brian complied but went storming from the room announcing 'You can't even become a saint in your own home!'
Submitted by Donald Fogelsanger, The Church of the Bretheren, Chambersburg,
THE DAFFODILS The house was a mess. Dirty dishes were on the table. The living room was in disarray, boots and gloves strewn about from a snow trip to the mountains the day before.
Then my five-year-old son, who had been playing outside, brought in a fistful of violets. He had permission to pick these tiny blossoms which grow profusely in the lawn. Could he pluck a daffodil, he asked? I shock my head yes.
He came running back with questions that led me to get down the encyclopedia.
"This is the stamen, the pistil (no not the kind you shoot), the pollen." He was fascinated as I told him how a bee gets the "yellow dust" on its feet and flies to another flower.
I thought of something else. I searched to find a book of poetry that contained Wordsworth's poem "Daffodils."
"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd,-
a host of golden daffodils Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze."
Steve jumped up and began to "flutter" and "dance" around the chair. We both laughed and I continued the poem, ending with those memorable words:
"...And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils."
Then my son asked, could we find a poem about his violets? Sure enough, we did—by Shakespeare, no less.
An hour later the house was still in a mess. The dirty dishes hadn't washed themselves. The boots and gloves reminded me of our marvelous family outing in a winter setting. Yet, here in the valley, spring had arrived, and with it tangible signs of God's creative power. How grateful I was that I'd taken the time to share his beauty with my little boy.
Thank you, Lord, for the unexpected moments when you slow me down long enough to see your hand at work. Open my eyes that I might do it more often.
By Shirley Pope Waite, submitted by, Joseph Townsend, Our Redeemer Lutheran
Church, Knox, Indiana
RAISING KIDS "On the anniversary of my spiritual birthday, after a day of communion with my Lord, reflecting on thirteen years of spiritual growth, I determined to tell my children for their nightly bedtime story about how I came to the faith. I tried to
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tell them the story in a way that my 4 year old daughter and my 2 year old son could understand. I was very moved by the opportunity, very challenged.. .and my children listened intently. When it was all done I said, 'And that's how daddy got to know that Jesus loves him.' After a brief moment of silence, my little 4 year old daughter said, 'Daddy, next time I want a bedtime story from a book.' Oh well...so much for the Great Commission."
Submitted by Ed Blake, Community Presbyterian Church, Danville, California
FAMILY/HOME RELATIONS Cross-cultural studies show that the U.S. parents spend less time with their children than parents in almost any other country in the world. Although both Russian parents work and Russian children spend a great deal of time in family collectives, emotional ties between children and parents are stronger and the time spent together considerably greater than in the U.S. There is relatively little juvenile delinquency in Russia. Some Russian fathers have said they would never let a day go by without spending two hours with their sons. A study in a small U.S. community shows that the average time fathers spend with their very young sons per day is about 37 seconds.
By Dr. Armand Nicholi II, Submitted by Rich Hardison, The Tabernacle Church of
Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia
TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR PARENTS
1. My hands are small; please don't expect perfection whenever I make a bed, draw a
picture, or throw a ball. My legs are short; slow down so that I can keep up with
2. My eyes have not seen the world as yours have; let me explore it safely, don't
restrict me unnecessarily.
3. Housework will always be there; I'm little only for a short time. Take time to
explain things to me about this wonderful world, and do so willingly.
4. My feelings are tender; don't nag me all day long (you would not want to be nagged
for your inquisitiveness). Treat me as you would like to be treated.
5. I am a special gift from God; treasure me as God intended you to do — holding me
accountable for my actions, giving me guidelines to live by, and discipling me in a
6. I need your encouragement (but not your empty praise) to grow. Go easy on the
criticism; remember, you can criticize the things I do without criticizing me.
7. Give me the freedom to make decisions concerning myself. Permit me to fail, so
that I can learn from my mistakes. Then someday I'll be prepared to make the
decisions life will require of me.
8. Don't do things over for me; that makes me feel that my efforts didn't measure up
to your expectations. I know it's hard, but don't compare me with my brother or my
9. Don't be afraid to leave for a weekend together. Kids need vacations from
parents, and parents need vacations from kids. Besides, it's a great way to show us
kids that your marriage is something special.
10. Take me to Sunday School and Church regularly, setting a good example for me to
follow. I enjoy learning more about God.
By Dr. Kevin Leman, Submitted by Curtis Hurley, Bellaire United Methodist Church, Indianapolis, Indiana
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PRAYER AND PARENTS About a century ago, there died a distinguished Presbyterian minister. When he was a young man, he had attended college at Yale. An awakening broke out on the campus while he was there. Nearly all the men of their class were moved by this awakening except this one student. Years afterward, a classmate of his asked him to explain how he had entered the ministry after apparently being untouched by this awakening.
The man said that his conscience had not been unstirred by the awakening, but that he had fought against making a confession of faith, for he feared that if he became a Christian he would then become a minister, and he was determined to make a name for himself as a lawyer.
After graduation, he went to a city in Georgia to read law in the office of a prominent attorney. He had been there a year or more when the news came that his father had recently died in the Vermont home. His father's friends had asked him as he lay dying if he cared to send any word to his son in the South. "Yes," he said, "tell him his mother prayed for him as long as she lived. Tell him his sister Martha prayed for him as long as she lived; and tell him that I died praying for him; and that now I leave him in the hands of the Lord."
When the son read the letter, he left his law books and went out into the forest alone. There he fought the battle between his own self-will and the prayers that had been offered for him. The prayers conquered. He determined, not only that he would become a Christian, but that he would become a minister. The gentleman in whose home he had lived, and in whose office he had studied, was greatly disappointed when he announced his intention of forsaking the law. He told him that within a few months he could be admitted to the bar, that he had high ability and was sure to make a mark and a place for himself as a lawyer. He then offered him a partnership in the law firm.
But his resolution could not be shaken. He left for New England, where he entered Andover Seminary. After leaving the seminary, he took charge of a church in a Vermont Village. There were children to be baptized, and not yet being ordained, he asked a neighboring minister who was a friend of his parents to assist him. After the baptismal service was completed, the visiting minister said to the congregation, "This reminds me of a similar service many years ago. I can see coming down the aisle of the church a tall, handsome man with a babe on his arms, and a lovely young wife at his side. When they came before the pulpit, the mother handed me a card on which was written the child's name and the date of his birth. At the bottom of this card was the word 'over.' I turned the card over and on the reverse side was written, 'I hereby dedicate this child to God and to the Gospel ministry.'" "That child," said the guest preacher, "is the minister who stands by my side today."
By Clarence Macartney, submitted by Douglas Mclntosh, Stone Mountain Community
Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia
This brings us to the end of the top ten. Each of the following will receive a four-month extension of their active subscription.
THE CHILD AS MANIPULATOR When my daughter, Shannon, was five years old, she came into the kitchen just a few minutes before supper asking, "May I have a 'Twinkie" please?" I replied, "No!" Supper will be served in just a few minutes."
Shannon began to moan and dance around, now demanding a 'Twinkie' since she was STARVING! Again, I said "no." I said "no" several times more. Shannon began to pout.
I have six children and they all have special names or titles that I have given them which match their personality and our relationship. Shannon is "My sweet precious love and the joy of my life" and my "D.D.D." (Which means "Dearest Darling
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Daughter"). While she pouted I picked her up and asked, "You are still going to be my 'Sweet precious love and the joy of my life and my D.D.D., aren't you?"
With her chin cupped in her hands and her elbows propped on the counter, her lips
poked out, Shannon whined, "I ain't gonna be your nothin' if you don't give me a
Submitted by Hoyt Johnson, Forest Christian Church, Jacksonville, Florida
THE MASTER IS ALWAYS IN The father of a small boy would occasionally sneak into a neighbor's orchard and pluck some of the choicest fruit. He always made sure, however, that "the coast was clear." One day with his son tagging along, after carefully looking in every direction and seeing no one, he crept through the fence. He was just about ready to help himself when the youngster startled him by crying out, "Dad! Dad! You didn't look UP! You forgot to see if God is watching." When temptation besets you and you're inclined to yield because no one else seems to be around, remember, if you're a Christian, your "MASTER IS ALWAYS IN!"
Found in Daily Bread, Submitted by Mary Demott, Grand Blanc, Michigan
A CHILD'S P.R. PROBLEM A little girl came home from school and said to her mother, "I wish you would let me take my bath in the morning before I go to school instead of at night before I go to bed."
"What difference does it make?" her mother asked.
"Every day at school," the little girl said, "Miss Taylor tells everybody to stand up who had a bath today. And I haven't been able to stand up one time since school started three months ago.
Submitted by Thomas Sublett, Trinity Lutheran Church, Jacksonville, Florida
MAKE UP YOUR MIND! My eight-year-old son, Noah, was discussing parent problems with his little friend. Of course, they had a lot of complaints.
Dustin was overheard grumbling, "First they teach you to talk, then they teach you to walk, and as soon as you do it, it's 'Sit down and shut up!'"
Submitted by Thomas Sublett, Trinity Lutheran Church, Jacksonville, Florida
CHILD STATISTICS A statistician who had never taken care of his four small energetic children by himself reluctantly promised to look after them one Saturday afternoon while his wife went shopping. When she returned, he gave her a note that read: "Dried tears - 11 times. Tied shoelaces - 15 times. Blew up toy balloons - 5 per child. Average life of each balloon - 10 seconds. Warned children not to run across street - 26 times. Children insisted on running across street - 26 times. Number of Saturdays I will go through this again - 0!
From Ralph C. Erickson, submitted by Roger Inouye, First Baptist Church, Aurora,
RAISING KIDS The importance of parental presence as a support for children's achievements should not be underestimated. It is a clear sign that the parents care when they take the time to come to see their children perform, particularly when the children know that the parents are not there for their own pleasure or enjoyment. This awareness of parental presence is even true among preschool children although in a somewhat muted form. I remember visiting my middle son's nursery school class, at the request of his teacher, so that I could observe a "problem child" in the class.
It so happened that I was sitting and observing a group of boys, including my son, who sat in a circle nearby.
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Their conversation went like this: CHILD A: "My daddy is a doctor and he makes a lot of money and we have a swimming pool." CHILD B: "My daddy is a lawyer and he flies to Washington and talks to the President. CHILD C: "My daddy owns a company and we have our own airplane."
Then my son (with aplomb, of course): "My daddy is here!" with a proud look in my direction. Children regard the public presence of their parents as a visible symbol of caring and connectedness that is far more significant than any material support could ever be.
By David Elkind, Submitted by James Giannantonio, Emmanuel Evangelical Lutheran
Church, Pottstown, Pennsylvania
COLLECT CALLS From an anonymous clipping in my resource file which I hope to use next Mother or Father's Day. "The Illinois Bell Telephone Co. reports that the volume of long-distance calls made on Father's day is growing faster than the number on Mother's Day. The company apologized for the delay in compiling the statistics, but explained that the extra billing of calls to fathers slowed things down. Most of them were collect."
Submitted by David Michel, Pleasant Lake United Methodist Churches, Pleasant
PARENTING TEENS I'm tempted to believe Mark Twain's philosophy: When a kid turns 13, stick him in a barrel, nail the lid shut, and feed him through the knot hole. When he turns 16, plug the hole.
Submitted by Rich Hardison, The Tabernacle Church of Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia
RESPONSIBILITY OF CHILD-REARING In his recent book, Costs of Children, economist Lawrence Olson reports that the average U.S. family should expect to spend $226,000 (in 1982 dollars) to raise a first-born son to age 22, and $247,000 for a first-born daughter. Low income families can get away with $121,000 and high income families will average $323,000. (The figures assume attendance at a private college or university for four years.)
If you had $200,000 to invest, wouldn't you do some careful research in advance and then watch that investment very, very carefully over the years? How much time, study, thought, and careful watchfulness do you exercise over these precious lives in which you will invest $200,000?
Submitted by Steven Cole, Community Church, Cedarpines Park, California
KIDS AND MONEY Proud Father: "My kid makes the money the old fashioned way." Other Father: "Like Smith, Barney?"
Proud Father: "No, he borrows it and doesn't pay it back." Funny Funny World
KIDS The cares of the world evidently rest heavily on the shoulders of the very young. Pat Meehan, a lifeguard at Pismo Beach, asked a young man named Harold how old he was. Harold sighed and said "I'm pushing five." Funny Funny World
TESTING — ONE, TWO, THREE When my brother and his wife were considering adopting some children they first took two little boys into their home as foster children to see how they would all relate to each other, before moving toward adoption. I was explaining this to my wife's twelve-year-old daughter, who responded spontaneously: "Gee, that's like test-driving a little kid."
Submitted by Roger Imhoff, Lutheran Pastor from Mt. Kisco, New York.
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WHITEWASHING THE FAMILY'S BLACK SHEEP The children in a prominent family decided to give their father a book of the family's history for a birthday present. They commissioned a professional biographer to do the work, carefully warning him of the family's "black sheep" problem: Uncle George had been executed in the electric chair for murder. The biographer assured the children, "I can handle that situation so that there will be no embarrassment. I'll merely say that Uncle George occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution. He was attached to his position by the strongest of ties and his death came as a real shock."
WHAT MOTHER WANTS MOST An eight-year-old was being interviewed on TV. The child came from a large family in which mother got up first, got the children off to school, got the father off to work, and then got down to the business of daily household chores. The child was asked, What do you think your mother wants most?" And the boy replied immediately, "To go back to bed."
Sunday Sermons Treasury of Illustration, Vol. I, page 165.
Getting It Done There are three ways to get something done: 1) Do it yourself; 2) Hire someone 3) Forbid your kids to do it. (Also submitted by Rich Hardison.)
Parents In her school essay on "parents," a little girl wrote: "We got our parents so late in age that it is impossible to change their habits."
Teens . . . Teenagers were put on earth to keep adults from wasting time on the telephone.
Teen Trouble . . . Show me a kid of 18 who can't wait to register to vote and I'll show you a kid who's going to be trouble in other areas as well.
From Funny Funny World, by Martin Ragaways, Los Angeles, California
Insanity ... is hereditary. You can get it from your children. Sam Levenson
Bend Them . . . Just as the tree is bent the tree's inclined. Alexander Pope
Father's Role . . . The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
Fr. Theodore Hesburgh