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TeensA Birthday Present from God
By Patricia Sheets

I am constantly and wonderfully amazed at God. It seems that the more I know of Him, the more I want to know, and just when I think I can predict what He is going to do next, wham, He surprises me yet again. His latest surprise was the gift He gave me on my 50th birthday.

A few days before my birthday, I jokingly asked God for a birthday present. I asked to be a teenager again. As soon as I had spoken the prayer, a smile crept to my face. Even though I know God is all-powerful, I couldnít fathom how even He could make me young again. I dismissed the prayer in my mind, got up and went about my day, not once considering the possibility that God would answer this ridiculous request.

Later that day, I received a frantic phone call from Heather, one of the teenagers in our church youth group. For some reason, this young lady has taken to me and assumes that I am her ally in the never-ending stream of circumstances she finds herself. Nearly every Sunday, I see her at the altar praying for one sin or another she had committed. I suspect that instead of saying, "May I pray with you?" the pastor asks, "What have you done this time?" One Sunday I thought I heard him say, "You did what? Oh my!"

Her most recent crisis involved an argument with her mother, being grounded "for the rest of my life!", and not being able to talk on the phone with her boyfriend. I listened patiently as she told her woeful story, hoping she would release some pressure and gain composure. Instead, she talked herself into a deeper frenzy and declared, "I hate my mom! I hope she never speaks to me again!"

At that point, I felt it was my duty as a mom and as a Christian to say something, but I wasnít sure what. For lack of a better idea, I decided to tell a story from my teenage years and some of the trials and tribulations I went through with my own mom.

My mom, like most moms, had her list of finely-tuned methods for torturing children. Oh yes, she knew the routine sayings, such as "Youíre trying yourself!" and, "If thatís what you think, then youíve got another think coming!" etc., etc. But my mom went a step further. She researched psychological data from the corners of the earth until she developed an alternative method of irritation. To awaken us each morning, instead of setting an alarm or dousing us with cold water, she would come in to our rooms, happy and cheerful, and in a sing-song voice that would put Julie Andrews to shame sing, "Up, Up, Up! Itís time to get up!"

I donít remember exactly when this abuse began, but it became intolerable at about age fifteen. Each and every morning, I would put the pillow over my head in an attempt to drown out the words, but she continued her morning ritual until I could take it no longer.

When I finally got married and moved from my parentsí home, I was thrilled that I would finally be free of what became known as "The Get Up Song." I married an Army man and moved away, but on the morning of my 21st birthday, the phone rang and on the other end I heard those grueling words, "Up, Up, Up! Itís time to get up!"

Not even the United States military could stop her!

I lived with this abuse until two years ago. On the morning of my 48th birthday the phone call from Mom came later than usual. I was beginning to wonder if perhaps she had forgotten my birthday, but finally the phone rang and a tired, faint voice whispered "The Get Up Song." As I listened, tears began streaming down my face. When she finished the song, I said, "Mom, can you sing it for me once more?" As she struggled through the melody for the very last time, I tried for all that was within me to capture and hide the words I know would never pass her lips again.

I finished the story, then said, "Heather, I am about to turn 50. You canít imagine what it would mean to me to have the phone ring on my birthday and hear those horrible, annoying words, "Up, Up, Up! Itís time to get up!"

She seemed to gain some insight from my story and promised to try and work things out with her mom. The conversation ended and I thought the subject was closed.

Early on the morning of my 50th birthday, the phone rang. I was startled, thinking someone had been in an accident, and quickly answered. I was shocked beyond words when a sixteen year old voice sang, "Up, Up, Up! Itís time to get up!"

For one instant, I was transformed into a kid again, fifteen years old, without a care in the world except an annoying mother who sang silly songs. As I hung up the phone, I looked towards heaven and said, "Thanks, God, for the wonderful birthday present."
Pat Sheets is a freelance writer with an offbeat sense of humor. She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with the three men in her life: Jack, her husband, is a pastor. Duncan and Barkley are pound-saved mutts but none-the-less, her "boys." You can write to Pat through the Letters page of this magazine.
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