Sense of Humor

“I have a dream that SOMEDAY, I will be able to stand at the stove and fix dinner without little hands pulling my pants down around my knees …..”

“I have a dream that SOMEDAY, I will be able to go to the bathroom, BY MYSELF, without someone banging on the door crying “Mommy, Mommy!”…..”

“I have a dream that SOMEDAY, it will be quiet when I call someone on the phone and crying will not erupt as soon as the phone is answered….”

“I have a dream that SOMEDAY, cleaning up after a meal will not include scraping food off the floor, chairs, and nearby walls….”

I remember clearly the afternoon 25 years ago that a dozen of us moms were waiting to collect our children after T-Ball. We were talking about fixing supper – what we had planned to cook, etc. We were sharing the fact that some of us had something in the crock pot, some had meat thawing on the counter, and some did not have a clue yet what they would serve for supper within the next hour or so.

It was at this point that Sue Bartlett spontaneously broke into her “I have a dream….” speech.  It was in no way disrespectful of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s amazing speech. Sue took the general outline and cadence of the famous sermon and started saying the words above in a loud, commanding voice.

We started laughing and couldn’t stop!  Some of us laughed so hard we doubled over. It was one of those rare moments when humor fits the situation perfectly and all of us connected with Sue. We were living those same situations and yet we often didn’t see them as funny.

Following that afternoon, when one of those “dream” situations occurred – as they often did – I had a totally new perspective. I found myself smiling, remembering Sue’s rendition as my toddler banged on the bathroom door crying. Sometimes I would start to preach my own dream speech to my children as they hung on my legs crying.  I’m sure they thought I had lost it (as they often did) but it lightened the mood and certainly changed my attitude from frustration to irony.

Proverbs 17:22 (NLT)

22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Just as this verse from the Book of Wisdom says, seeing the humor in a situation will help us face it in a more positive light. Being the mother of small children is challenging and takes emotional, physical, and intellectual strength. When we find ourselves drained of strength – look for humor – it lightens the load! Next time you see or hear something funny with your child, write it down – you will be encouraged. Then, share it with us so we can laugh with you!

Paralyzing Fear

Will he fall?

I was pregnant with our first child in 1977.  Phil was driving our 1974 VW bug, and we were traveling at night down a narrow, curving road from Cashiers to Cullowhee in the mountains of North Carolina. All of the sudden I was gripped with fear that we would crash. I cried out to Phil to slow down, almost hysterical with anxiety. He was mystified. We had traveled this same road dozens of times and I had never shown any concern with his driving. Phil is a very safe driver – he has never had a ticket nor an accident since he was 16 years old. (he did get a speeding ticket and had an accident soon after obtaining his driver’s license at 16 – it must have been a well learned lesson !) Yet my fear was very real and I could not reason it away. Was it because I was now a mother?

This past Wednesday we were driving to Hickory on Interstate 40 and a thunderstorm burst upon us with torrential rain. Again I was fearful of being involved in a car wreck. Fear seemed to come from nowhere and consume me.  I planned to write this post about fear and how it can paralyze our minds, preventing us from sensing God’s presence. I knew the negative power of fear, yet here I was  – feeling this fear, unable to ignore it. I know I will be in my Heavenly Father’s presence when I die – but I was still afraid.

Fear can come from many sources.

  • past experience – like a previous accident
  • harmful situations that happened to friends or acquaintances
  • the unknown
  • warnings from others, “there might be spiders/snakes/bugs in there!”
  • failure
  • future
  • real danger – this is healthy fear!

As mothers, we NEED to aware of possible danger that could harm our children. We don’t want them to play near the road, jump in water above their heads before they know how to swim, or jump off the top bunk onto sharp objects.

As a grandmother, my perception of possible danger is much more acute than it was as a parent. I think this may be a universal occurrence. I remember my mother not wanting our children (her grandchildren) to play in the woods because they might get poison ivy. I recall thinking – as a child myself I played in the woods for hours and my mother was not in the least concerned! Maybe it is the years of life experience – but grandmothers are much more cautious than mothers.

Healthy fear is positive – but what about those unhealthy fears that paralyze us? Those fears that prevent us from enjoying times with our family because something bad may happen, what do we do with those?

I want to share three ways to confront fear that MAY be helpful. Notice I said ‘MAY” be helpful. Just as there are many sources of fear – there is no “one size fits all” antidote for fear. These Bible verses have helped me overcome fear, I use them often.

  1.  Confront Your Fear  When a feeling of fear grips you – recognize it. Don’t suppress it or pretend that if you ignore it , it will go away. By naming the fear – even verbalizing that fear, you displace the unknown quality that can undermine your thoughts and feelings. When I told Phil I was afraid of driving in the thunderstorm, that fear lost some of its hold on me as soon as I identified it.  This verse helps when thoughts fill my mind that I know are not good.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) ” We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

       2.  Recognize the cause of the Fear  Why am I fearful? Is the cause valid? What can I do about it? If the cause seems unfounded – that may not take the fear  away. You may know that a black snake is not poisonous, yet the sight of one still may cause fear. If the cause of my fear is something I cannot do anything about – then I must confess my fear to God and ask for His strength to overcome it.

              2 Timothy 1:5-9 (NLT)   ” 5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois, and mother, Eunice.  And know that same faith continues strong in you. 6This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.   7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

          3.  Pray – Confess God’s faithfulness through Scripture and Song   I quote Bible verses that build my faith, and I sing songs that encourage me.

“My hope is built on nothing less, then Jesus’ blood and righteousness….On Christ the SOLID ROCK I stand….”

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me… I can….I can….”

“When sorrows like sea billows roll……It is well with my soul.”

The LOUDER I sing, the more it builds my faith.  This may not be what helps you. Pray about what God will use to help you overcome fear. Fear is a common concern for us as mothers and grandmothers. Yet we can win this battle through the power of our Heavenly Father.

Please share ways that God has helped you overcome fear. These will be an encouragement to others.

Faith or Fear

Woody Family in 1990

Woody Family in 1990


In June of 1990 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and on July 2, 1990 I had surgery to remove that cancer.  I was 38 years old and we had 4 children aged 13, 11, 10, and 8.  My first thought was that my children needed a mother. As wonderful a father as my husband Phil was – I felt my children needed me. Who would fix the girl’s hair?  Who would be there for the important life events that lay ahead? Could Phil shop for wedding dresses someday?

People all over Jackson County began praying for me as well as people literally around the world. My parents were teaching at a mission school in Taiwan at that time and their whole school began praying for me. I don’t really have words to describe the very real effect of those prayers, but I can describe the results of those prayers in two practical ways.

1)    I felt very loved. People took care of our children, cleaned our house, and brought meals for a total of 40 days.

2)    I felt peace. God impressed on me a Bible verse that says – Psalm 31:14-24

14 But I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands.

The peace came because I believe when that verse says “my times are in your hands” it means that I will not die one day before Gods’ will is fulfilled in my life. I realized at that point I had a choice. I could choose faith or fear. 

I could live in fear of the cancer coming back –

or I could live believing in God’s faithfulness.

I have chosen faith.

Yes, fear does try to creep in. Whenever ……

  • I feel a different pain,
  • I hear about someone I know having a reoccurrence of cancer,
  • I am waiting for the results of my yearly check up.

At the moment that fear tries to creep in – I again choose FAITH.

A former chemistry teacher at Smoky Mountain High School named Valerie Yurkovich had breast cancer the year before I did and came to visit me and bring a meal after I had surgery. She told me that when her husband found out I had been diagnosed with cancer he said, “That surprises me because she is such a good Christian.” I was blessed that he thought that about me, but the Bible never says that just because we are Christians, bad things won’t happento us. In fact it says in James 1:2 – 3

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

I never asked ‘why me?” when I found out I had cancer – instead I realized “why not me?”

Valerie Yurkovich did face a reoccurrence of cancer and died after battling bravely. So did other friends of mine – Martha Queen, Elizabeth Dux, and just last year, Pam Lee.

Why am I still here?

On 9-11 this year I heard one of the Captains of a Fire Fighting Unit speak about the horror he experienced being in a stairwell of the World Trade Center when the building collapsed. He and his men were on the 40th floor with several people they were rescuing. They heard a loud explosion, things collapsed around them, and after a time as the dust and debris settled, he realized there was blue sky above him. The building had collapsed all around him and miraculously he and those with him survived.

This Captain said that people hear of his experience and often say “You must feel that God has something very special for you since you survived.”  – he replies –   “No – because then that means that those who died that day did not have special futures ahead.”

I don’t believe that I have survived 22 years after cancer just because God has something special for me to accomplish in life. I believe He has something special for ALL of us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says  –

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

The life lessons I have gleaned from having cancer are:

  • Growing older is a blessing! – I am BLESSED to be 60 with graying hair and wrinkles! I am able to enjoy being with our adult children and their spouses. The blessings of seeing them enjoy their careers and families and 11 grandchildren are gifts I no longer take for granted.
  • God teaches us through suffering – Sheila Walsh says about suffering
    • You would never sign up for it…. but you’d never change it.

The challenge for all of us is to live each day as if to accomplish the SPECIAL PURPOSE God has for us by choosing faith over fear. Fear of anything robs us of the peace faith in God brings.

In the next post we will look at some of the common fears that afflict young mothers. May God bless you with faith!