Years ago, when we lived in Texas, Dave and I hosted a Bible study in our home. It was led by our good friends, our pastor Jack and his wife Lael.
A new couple came one Sunday evening when Dave was out of town, and before our study began, I asked about their family. They had one son and he was...well, "perfect." I smiled and said not what I was thinking: "How nice."
As the couples took their places in our living room, I checked on the boys who were down the hall in their bedrooms. I gave them one final threat about trying to act like civilized human beings for the next 60 minutes and then returned to the group.
Jack was opening our study in prayer when I heard the boys talking ... loudly. Within 15 seconds their conversation turned to a screaming match and something hit the wall. Followed by something else.
Armageddon was erupting a few feet away, but I did what every humiliated mother does -- I kept my head bowed, hoping (and praying) no one noticed.
Mid-prayer, Jack stopped. When I looked up, everyone was staring at me.
"Patty, do you think you'd better check on that?" queried my pastor.
"Check on what?" I answered demurely. My guests appeared stunned by my sudden hearing loss.
"Okay, okay," I said as I nonchalantly ambled out of the room.
Once out of eyesight, it was a different story. I sprinted into Jeff's bedroom where little was left in its original place.
Jeff and Adam were rolling on the bed, Jeff with a bloodied lip and Adam with a welt on his cheek. I was livid!
When none of my usual threats worked, I jumped on the bed with them, trying to pry them apart, while at the same time saying something desperate, using my loudest whisper: "Do you know there is a group of Christians down the hall praying?"
When that had about as much impact as a politician's campaign promise, I continued: "Well, you'd better pray I don't break your legs before this is over!"
Somehow we ended up standing, me in referee position, while they took swings over my shoulder. After about 10 minutes I was able to return to the Bible study, no doubt looking like I had just exited a steam bath.
Trying to appear composed, I strolled into the room and sat down. The new couple looked comatose.
Finally, Jack spoke: "Patty, are you all right?"
"Why, Jack, I'm fine. Why do you ask?" I smiled.
The couples glanced at each other. Jack continued. "Well, we wondered if we should come and help. We were worried the boys were going to hit you."
I spoke before I thought. "Hit me? Hit me? Why, they would never hit me, Jack. Because if they did, I'd take a 2-x-4 and smash their little heads into the wall."
Lael immediately turned to comfort the new couple with, "She doesn't mean that."
"Oh, yes I do!" I exclaimed.
Instead of the couples racing for the door, the opposite happened. We set Hebrews aside that evening and began discussing parenting.
As it turned out, our visitors' son wasn't quite as missionary-like as they had pretended. They, like most Christians, weren't about to air their family's dirty laundry with others who (they thought) had it so together.
My family's behavior gave them permission to open up and share, and our group became much closer after that experience. I'm glad I could serve as such a positive role model.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you who work to do the same.