Holy Pep Talk

If our family is together in a public place and a child is misbehaving, chances are one of us will turn to the others and say, “Looks like somebody needs a ham sandwich.” If you’re within earshot and don’t know the story behind this statement, you would think us crazy. So here’s the story:

When we were young parents (which means our boys were young, too) we wanted more than anything to train them up right – teaching them to obey us and to observe the laws of man and God. Sometimes that meant some kind of discipline – not necessarily corporal, but we weren’t opposed to it sparingly if it was absolutely the best option.

One spring weekend when our boys were 3 ½ and 6 months, we went on a family trip to see the Atlanta Passion Play. My sister, June, and her family went, too. One of the stops we had planned to make was at a barbecue restaurant called Sprayberry’s in Newnan, Georgia. Ummmm – southern barbecued pork with fixin’s and sweet tea. What could be better? All excited and hungry, we were seated at a large table as our mouths started watering with one whiff of the hickory smoke coming from the kitchen.

Mark, the 3-year-old at the time, was generally a very compliant child but in the six months his demanding little brother, Drew, had been in the world, Mark’s compliance waned from time to time. The waitress at Sprayberry’s brought Mark a child’s menu that doubled as a coloring page and came with a side of crayons.

“Mark, look, there’s some special food just for you,” we said. Mark was too engaged coloring a pig to respond.

“Look, they have grilled cheese, chicken fingers, and ham sandwiches,” we explained the yummy choices hoping that Mark would soon choose one. Mark kept coloring.

When the waitress returned to take our order, we pressed our oldest son for a decision. Grilled cheese, chicken fingers, or ham sandwich. Finally Mark spoke. “I want fish,” he declared but never looking up from his coloring.

“But you see, son, they don’t serve fish here. This is a barbecue restaurant. They have ham sandwiches though. You love those!” A futile attempt at reasoning with a toddler.

“I want fish!” he gave a quick glance our way and then went back to coloring.

In the ensuing minutes there was an exchange between parents and child that was leading nowhere fast. The more we pleaded and explained the absence of fish on the menu, the more adamant and loud he became.

Finally his father had had enough. Firmly plucking Mark out of his booster seat, Dennis headed to the exit door with our 3-year-old, flailing and screaming, in tow. No one can recall what actually took place in those five or so minutes that father and son were discussing life outside. All we know is that when they returned Mark was still fighting back tears, and when asked what he wanted for lunch, he announced, “I’ll have a ham sandwich please!”

Now you know the story.

I’ve needed a ham sandwich lots of times in my life. I’ve pouted because I didn’t get my way. I’ve dug in my heels and demanded something not on God’s menu for me. And that was just last week!

The same chapter in Proverbs (chapter 3) that contains “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will direct your paths” also contains this: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves….

True love demands discipline. Thank you, Lord.


1 thought on “Holy Pep Talk

  1. Cindy Hardin

    WOW, Nan! I’ve had lots of ham sandwiches in my lifetime………bless my heart. 🙂
    Great reminders, thanks! Keep up the good work, I’m loving reading these!! Love ya!


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