“What does ‘manna’ mean?” I asked, over the breakfast table. Papa leaned back in his chair and smiled. “What is it?” Blank stares passed from one person to the next before Mom finally ventured, “Bread from heaven…?” Papa’s grin widened as he clarified. “Manna means ‘What is it?’”
Sunlight poured over my kitchen work as Mom came in and poured herself a glass of milk. “I need to be drinking more of this,” she commented and I took the opportunity to ask about all the medical tests she’s been having lately. Many of them are just routine “woman” checks, but I sensed that all is not as she might wish. “My bone density scan was pretty…pretty bad,” she admitted. “Much worse than someone my age should be. I’m not quite osteoporosis, but almost.” And she started crying. “What can you do about it?” I asked, pushing away my mixing bowl and wrapping my arms around her. Nothing. She doesn’t weigh enough to make exercising very useful. Not that she should stop, of course. It just won’t help. More milk will never do it. Medication is on the horizon, but many doctors won’t even take the medications they prescribe. “So, what does that mean? What will it do to you? Are you going to fall and break your hips?” She wiped her eyes and grinned a little lop-sided. “I don’t really know. I don’t think it’s that bad. I just don’t like getting old.” Papa’s blood pressure has been up, too. Pretty high, I guess. “It pounds in my face, turning me red, and gives me headaches,” he explained to me as we walked along the quiet road. Stress always sends his blood pressure sky-rocketing. If I could, I would heal everything instantly, but in this I see the limit to my wisdom, for what valuable lessons might be all lose were there never a care in the world? A pain. An ache. A void.
I overheard Lydia announcing a loose tooth tonight. In this are our differing characters revealed: Lydia’s patience in waiting until each tooth falls out—the last one in several pieces, it was so far gone. My controlling lack of it, in ripping every one out as soon as it gave the first sign of a tell-tale wiggle—many still had part of the root. “I hath a looth tooth!” she proudly proclaimed several years ago, after discovering her first. “Oh!” I knelt in front of her. “Let me see!” And then, “Here you go” as I handed her the pearly white. Since then she has carefully refrained from sharing her news with me, until she was good and ready to be through with the drama of the wiggling stage. Tonight was her first molar. “No!” she said, firmly, as I followed her into the bathroom, but then she relented. “Just pull it out fast.” I grinned, rolled up my sleeves with an “All righty!” and out the tooth came. I suppose Lydia’s gratefulness bubbled over, since she offered me assistance later, as I balanced on the tip of my toes attempting to reach the top shelf of the cabinet. “Oops! Skin!” she exclaimed and yanked my skirt waistband up to my ribs. I’m not ticklish, but I nearly dropped the pot on her head.
“Penguins incubate their eggs by keeping them on their feet under their belly fat,” Taylor informed us. Thus began the discussion of penguins—particularly whether or not they are possessed of feathers. I’ve even seen them close up, and still always assumed they attired themselves much in the fashion of a whale or dolphin—you know, a tailored wet suit. “Don’t you remember what makes a bird a bird?” Papa remonstrated and quickly proved any doubters wrong with the nearest Encyclopaedia. That fact settled, Nathan and Taylor moved on to various other creatures and contraptions in God’s ingenious planet earth. “Those sure are some nice guys,” Mom commented, wiping crumbs from the counter after they’d left. “I wish the whole world were made up of a whole lot more guys like that. It would be a much more pleasant place.” “Yes,” I observed, sagely. “Much more quiet.”
The book of First Samuel brought me face to face with another exemplary woman—Hannah. At a time when I keep asking Yahweh for favors, gifts and notice, her multiplied prayer for a son caught my attention. “Women shall be preserved through the bearing of children,” Paul comments, hundreds of years later. What did she need? Children to care for her in her old age. A true need. But her request is laced with humility and devotion to Yahweh. “If You will indeed look upon me and remember me and not forgive me, but will give me a son, the Yahweh of hosts, I will give him back to You!” Struck dumb by her words, I kept rereading the prayer that Yahweh delighted to answer. “Please be so kind as to give me a son, that I can give him back to You!” She wanted a son to serve Yahweh. Her desire to give back to Yahweh was honored and she bore a son who became a great prophet—even anointed Israel’s first two kings. And Yahweh’s blessing was multiplied to her through the births of five more children. This humble woman’s prayer was a testimony to me of what and how I should implore Yahweh of hosts—so that I might give back to Him, recognizing that I can only give what He has already given me.
Lord, may Thy grace dwell richly in me,
May I bring forth fruits that please Thee—
Children that will serve Thee wholly,
Dedicated to Thee only.
May the work of both my hands,
Be blessed of Thee to strongly stand.
And every blessing flowing from Thee,
Be offered up to bless Thee fully.