The Days of Whine and Noses

Certain things are just meant to be together.  Peanut butter and jelly. Kermit and Miss Piggy. Back seats and whining.  I am convinced that car manufacturers actually install a device in the back seats to induce whining and route it through the surround sound system.  For activation, all it takes is the pressure of about thirty pounds.  Amazingly, the vehicle doesn’t even have to be moving to trigger this phenomenon.  If only the imaginary brake in the passenger seat could work as well.

Nothing raises my hackles as quickly as a good whine.  In fact, I didn’t even know I had hackles until I had children.  I thought they were reserved for dogs and chickens, but now I know better.  God designed hackles on the back of a parent’s neck so that we could know when we have reached our limit and need to come to Him for help before we implode.

God first realized the need for hackles when the children of Israel were wandering through the wilderness.  At first, the trip probably seemed like an exciting adventure.  But then they backed out of the driveway and for forty years the vast, barren wasteland echoed with the ancient equivalent of “Are we there yet?” and “Stop touching me!”

When the Israelites complained about the food and begged for some sort of fast food treat, God provided His children with a snack called manna, also known as “the grain of heaven” and “the bread of angels.”  But were they thankful? N-o-o-o-o-o.  They complained like a bunch of disappointed children on Christmas morning.

“What’s this?  A wafer?  Pfffff!  Where’s the beef?”

Suddenly the car came to a grinding halt and God threatened to “come back there.”

Numbers 11:18-20

 18 …’The LORD heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it.

19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days,

 20 but for a whole month– until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it— because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” ‘”

The threat of quail coming out of their nostrils probably brought some radio silence for a few moments.

God truly understands what a parent is going through when a child is whining and complaining.  I witnessed this truth when my kids were recently sick with a cold.  With this illness, my normally happy children gave birth to some sort of internal beast that made Oscar the Grouch seem downright jovial.

Maybe they didn’t have quail coming out of their nostrils, but their noses morphed into faucets of gunk that even the formidable team of Hans Brinker and the Kleenex company couldn’t plug.  The level of whining reached epic proportions and raised my hackles as though hundreds of miniature soldiers were standing at attention on the back of my neck.

At one point I buried my head under my pillow and tried to squelch the toxic combination of constant nose-wiping and whining.  Acting like an ostrich didn’t help, so I tried begging instead.

“God, please.  I can’t deal with this.  I’m going crazy.  Why do they have to be sick like this?  I’m so tired of wiping noses. This whining is unbearable…”

Like the sudden scrape of a needle across a vinyl record, my speech was interrupted when I got smacked in the middle of the forehead by the hand of irony.

Yes, I was whining.  I must have sounded to God exactly how my children sounded to me. The angels were buying their heads under pillows. Worse, I was probably even raising their hackles.

I put up with this for forty years, remember? 

I certainly did not want to be responsible for causing God’s head to implode.  As I bowed my head, I suddenly remembered my wedding vows.

in sickness and in health, for better or for worse

I had pledged these words to my husband, but what about my children?  When everything was going smoothly, it was so easy to focus on my overwhelming love for them.  But add a little tribulation, and I was transported back to the whining wilderness with the children of Israel.

Opening yet another box of Kleenex, I took a deep breath, gathered my little ones, and resumed my position as Royal Nose-Wiper and Whine-Taster.  As I held them close to me, a painful lump formed in my throat, but I knew it wasn’t the beginning of illness.  It was simply the realization that these kids are growing so quickly, and someday I will long for the Days of Whine and Noses.

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Moses Takes I-95

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away from Interstate 95, my husband and I vacationed on the exotic shores of Mexico and in the tropical paradise of the Caribbean.  Our vacations included verbs such as “frolic” and “relax.”  A good vacation was measured by the number of steps from the plane to the warm sand and surf.  Now that God has blessed us with children, our vacation vocabulary has expanded to include “family discounts,” ” mini-golf,” and  “kids menu.”

After an eight year hiatus, we finally decided that it was time to pack up our things and the kids and venture out on the highway.  Our trip began with a 12 1/2 hour car ride, which was piquantly described by Trip Tik as “7 hours, 15 minutes.”  That won’t be too bad, I thought, as the people at AAA snickered behind my back. 

In case you are wondering why we did not just get on a plane, try to imagine my plane dream sequence with children kicking seats, fighting and screaming, as the pilot hits the EJECT button.

I figured if Moses could survive wandering in the desert for forty years with the whining and petulant children of Israel, then I could endure the backseat shenanigans of my own kids for half a day.  As we started on our journey, I panicked, flashing back to the time one of the kids whined, “Are we there yet?” before we had even left the driveway.

I did not think the kids would last long being strapped in upright and looking as awkward and uncomfortable as NASA astronauts on the space shuttle. I missed the days of yore when my parents tossed us to the wind and we rolled like tumbleweeds in the vast desert-like way back of our 1970s brown station wagon.

To my surprise, the kids lasted the entire journey with hardly a whine.  They were so excited to reach our destination that they hardly noticed the grueling ride. I thought about Noah and Abraham, and the great men and women of faith mentioned in the Bible. 

Hebrews 11:15-16

If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.

Instead, they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one.

When you set your sights on a better future, you tend not to focus on the ugliness of your surroundings.  Poor Moses, stuck in a traffic jam on the I-95 of Biblical times, must have survived by his great faith in God’s ability to find him the right exit.  He was a man who knew how to have forward thinking.

Hebrews 11:26-27

He (Moses) regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

Thanks to the lesson from my children, I was able to ignore the more unpleasant aspects of our trip, and focus on our destination.  As we endured one traffic jam and accident after another on the interstate, I marveled at the beauty of God’s plan.

Once upon a time we vacationed in paradise.  And soon, we will live there forever, happily ever after.  The End.