If You’re Happy & You Know It… Sing This Song Again

Some people build cathedral like nurseries for their babies, inspired by the best and brightest ideas that Pinterest has to offer. They equip the room with inspirational banners reminding the baby to participate in “Sweet Dreams” and they adorn the walls with artful Bible verses admonishing the baby in the way it should go.

I don’t know if they realize it, but babies can’t read. You might as well put the instructional manual for the toaster on the wall – they would find it just as inspiring. Then you wouldn’t have to fret when it inevitably gets ripped off the wall and eaten. No one needs the instructional manual for a toaster anyway.

We declared the extra room in our house “the Nursery” (there were no other rooms, so…) then bought a crib at a yard sale for $5 and shoved all the baby clothes in the built in closet. Janice made a few whimsical streamers to hang over the crib and it does look nice, I must admit.

I’m starting to understand, though, why people make their nurseries such nice places to be. It’s because you’re in the room all the time trying to put your little munchkin to sleep. Like, for example, right now I’m up trying to put Adi to sleep. She screams like a bad set of brakes the minute I leave the room. I’ve rocked her for an hour and had her sleeping like a fat man on a hammock. I gently, so gently, rolled her into the crib but she opened her eyes and thought to herself, “Oh, Oh, what’s this? Daddy’s trying to sneak out again!” I’ve exhausted my supply of kid’s songs, even the ones where you make up extra verses like, “If you’re happy and you know it, wear a smile. If you’re happy and you know it, stick your tongue up your nose. If you’re happy and you know it, sniff a sock, etc. etc.” So I resorted to merely writing a blog post to pass the time while I let her roll around and fidget in the crib, although the household policy that all babies in cribs must stay laying down is strictly enforced.

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The baby is not laying down in this photo clearly demonstrating a blatant disregard for household policy.

I think I’ll invest in a big screen TV for the nursery and maybe a mini fridge. Also, an overstuffed rocking recliner would be nice as well. Maybe I’ll have the local church choir on stand by in the closet just in case Adi needs some lullabies. Ah yes.

In June I’m sojourning to Reading, Pennsylvania to teach 2nd graders stories from the Bible. It is good to know more than your students so I think 2nd grade is a good fit for me. Those third graders can ask some pretty deep questions.

This all started at the mission conference at New Covenant Church a month or so ago. Tony Sensenig (my cousin – although he may not admit it) asked me half heartedly if I wanted to help teach Summer Bible School again. Tony is involved with Shiloh Mennonite Church which is slap dab in the middle of Reading city. You know the Reading Railroad on the Monopoly board game? It’s the same town. Reading used to be a very rich city but those times are past. Way past! Now it’s one of the poorest in the nation. I used to live in Reading and helped with Shiloh Church’s Tuesday night kid’s club before I moved to Indiana. I also taught fifth grade Sunday school every now and again.

Tony was having a hard time finding teachers and, feeling moved by the spirit of the mission conference we were at, I agreed to help teach. The biggest mistake I made was not consulting my wife first. Men, it is important to consult your wife first. Like somebody (I forget who) in the movie “Fiddler on the Roof” says,

“Men are the head but women are the neck and the neck turns the head whichever way it pleases.”

After hearing of my plans for the family, my wife pointed out that just a couple months ago we were in PA for almost two months living in a basement out of a suitcase. Then we drove to PA again for the missions conference. We were in Virginia the same weekend. We also drove to Florida before we went to PA for two months. She also pointed out that I had chickens in the backyard and that someone should take care of them. Also, for some reason she has a whole bunch of potted flowers, plants, shrubs, and what have you and apparently they will wither and die without water. She finished by bringing up the fact that driving to PA costs us about $350 in tolls and gas each trip and we didn’t have that in the budget. Oh yea, we are finally managing to get Adi on a sleep schedule (except tonight, apparently) and teaching late every night at Summer Bible School will mess it all up again.

All good points which somehow slipped my mind. We finally reached a compromise. Like Calvin in the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes” says,

“A good compromise will make everyone angry.”

We decided that Janice will stay home while I zip on over to Pennsylvania in our blue Scion hatchback. This plan saves money on gas and keeps the chickens and household plants alive.

I also started praying that God would provide the money for the trip. “Hey God, if you could just drop a pallet of twenty dollar bills in the backyard, that’d be great. But please, mind the chicken coop.”

God didn’t exactly do that but He did provide in a way that prevented me from being a lazy mooch. Janice suggested that I email Art, her brother who owns a hatchery in Pennsylvania, and see if he had part time work I could do while in PA. Bible School is in the evenings so I have the first part of the day available. I emailed Art about this possible arrangement. Erleen, Art’s sister who also works for him as a secretary, emailed back.

“I will answer for Art. Kaylee [one of Art’s employees] is getting married on June 23 and wants time off, I think you might be an answer to prayer!”

Turns out, that exact same week I’m going into PA, Art needed extra help for just a week. So praise God for provision for my trip to Shiloh Summer Bible School. That’s neat how that worked out.

On a side note, if you wish you to build patience and character, come visit us in Goshen and drive around town on some urgent matter. The nature of the matter doesn’t matter, as long as it’s urgent in nature. Judging from the frequency and length of the trains at crossings, Goshen is encircled by four miles of train tracks and there is three and a half mile train that just runs in circles at high speeds. You have to sit at the train crossing clutching your steering wheel with white knuckles, eyes twitching. As soon as the crossing bars go up, you gas it and go airborne across the tracks in an attempt to get to the other side before the train comes screeching around the circle again.

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“Don’t worry, in forty minutes we’ll have another three second chance to cross the tracks.” Train crossing photo by craig kerwien on Unsplash

With Gratitude,

Josh

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