Prayer Request

We church kids all called her “Hippo,”
Because we thought she weighed a ton.
She always sat on the front row
With her bratty unruly son.
He liked to line the hymnals up
And loudly make the sound of trains,
Or take the offering envelopes
And fold them all into airplanes.

When he made Hippo mad enough,
Her neck would always turn bright red.
She’d reach across the mess he’d made
And thump him up side of his head.
One night while in a revival,
He almost brought the whole church down.
With songbook for a hammer,
The brat had just begun to pound.

She jerked him up by his left arm
And then she held him dangling there.
We thought that he’d come unjointed
But Hippo didn’t seem to care.
She threw him over her shoulder
And started for the church front door.
We knew next we’d hear the beating,
At least a dozen licks or more.

Well, the preacher stopped his preaching.
And the church grew deathly quiet.
Then the little boy did something
That caused a giggling riot.
With eyes round as two big saucers,
And as frightened as he could be.
He yelled over Hippo’s shoulder,
“You all had better pray for me?”

“Hippo” was a very real woman in a church we once attended. She had two boys and a girl who were soundly thrashed at least once during each service. Ruth’s mother was teaching a Bible study one Wednesday night when one such thrashing took place. She stopped in the middle of a sentence to say, “I’m glad that you’re not my mother”.

Shortly after that, during our Sunday school class, “Hippo” asked for suggestions on how to control her temper when disciplining her children. I told her that with our four children, I never gave more then three swats and they stood for “I love you”. I told her that she should repeat those three words to herself when she found it necessary to use physical punishment.

When we discussed the same topic the next Sunday, she admitted that she had tried but that it came out, “I love you very, very, very, very, very (and on and on) much.”

Of course, modern experts tell us that we were all wrong when we swatted our children. My swats were not given to administer pain, but to add emphasis to my verbal correction. Such punishment should never be administered in church or in anger.

By the way our four children all turned out great; we have Ruth, an electrical engineer/computer whiz, Ronald, a professional computer graphics artist/talented singer, Jonathan, a medical doctor/pianist and Timothy, a computer scientist/pianist, and the three who have children are great parents as well. My ‘I love you’ swats must not have warped them too badly.

Prayer Request might not be exactly how it happened (I claim poet’s license) but it does make it a humorous story.

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