Growing up we moved briefly to Oklahoma. It was a difficult experience for us. We were suffering from culture shock. We had very little money. We had not yet developed a network of friends. We missed our familiar Ohio.
We were involved in a “recovery work”. In other words, Dad took a church that was about dead and helped fight for its survival. The relationships within the church were not particularly healthy.
Sometimes we had very, very modest meals. At one point I remember having only peanut butter and pears to eat. We stopped and prayed before our “meal.” Dad had told us stories of God’s provision for George Muller and we were hoping for miraculous provision. In Bristol one morning a milk truck broke down in the street and they gave all the milk to Muller’s orphanage. I secretly wished for a similar experience with a pizza delivery car. It was not to be. The heavens were as brass and at the end of the prayer we all looked at each other until Melony grabbed a knife and a pear, swiped a hunk of peanut butter on it and said; “I don’t know what you guys are going to do, but I’m going to eat.”
During our mercifully brief time in Oklahoma we were eating together as a family one night and things we not going well. There was tension in the air. We were all feeling out of place and homesick. My little brothers had already spilled their milk a couple times and Dad had warned them to be more careful. I think he especially hated seeing the waste. Finally one of the little brothers reached for something without asking and his full milk glass tipped over again and ran toward Dad.
Dad, wildly over-reacting, threw his chair back from the table and leaped up. His chair fell over backwards when he did and he stormed out of the room. Silence fell on the rest of us. No one moved. For a while we all just sat and looked at each other and no one moved. Finally, tentatively we began to eat again but there was no conversation. In a few minutes we heard a stirring and realized Dad was coming back in the room. We looked at each other wordlessly then we all turned and looked toward the door.
Dad was standing in the dining room door dressed in a full-length rain-coat and said; “O.K. let’s try that again.”
There is no way to avoid tension and trouble and everyone overacts sometimes, but a little humor has a way of helping oil the family machinery.
We were on a trip one day and the children had the “sillies” which was getting seriously annoying. I asked them over and over again to stop. They did not. I warned them that they would be spanked if they did not stop. They did not stop. Finally I had had all I could take. I swiftly came to a stop and the children were silent. I got out of the van and walked quickly around and took a hold of the sliding door and pulled it open. I thought “I’ll spank them hard and they will not feel like laughing anymore.”
When I pulled the door open and looked into the van. The children were looking back with questioning faces. My heart melted. I grabbed Kyle and said; “You want to laugh?” I pulled him out on the ground and began to tickle him. He laughed. I laughed. All the other children laughed. Finally when they had it out of their system we resumed our trip and all was well.
Sometimes when things are tense the best thing is a good laugh. I learned that from my Dad.