Happy birthday... Francesca?
by Jennifer Cohron
May 15, 2011 | 2965 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
Wyatt's first birthday was unforgettable but not for the reason I had hoped.

As the sun came up on April 28, Zac and I walked downtown to see which buildings had been damaged by the tornado.

Unfortunately, all we saw were piles of rubble where homes and businesses were supposed to be.

A year earlier, we had been celebrating a new life. That Thursday, we thought more about death -- how many, who and where.

I spent part of the morning responding to text messages from friends who were concerned about our safety as well.

Wyatt was oblivious to the heavy sadness that had settled on the city. Watching him go about his carefree routine helped me a lot in those first dark days.

Although I was thankful that Wyatt had lived to see his first birthday, I felt guilty that I couldn't give him the party he deserved. Under the circumstances, it was impossible and inappropriate.

We rescheduled Wyatt's party for Mother's Day.

I worked myself into a tizzy on Sunday morning getting everything ready for Elmopalooza.

Elmo birthday cake -- check. Elmo shirts for mother and son -- check. Assorted Elmo gifts and decorations -- check.

One of the last things I did was unfurl his birthday banner that I ordered online over a month ago.

It was supposed to have a baby Elmo on it and read "Happy 1st birthday, Noah Wyatt."

So imagine my surprise when the banner in my hands had purple and pink polka dots and read, "Happy birthday, Francesca."

Of course, it was too late to correct the company's mistake. Their 14-day return policy had long since passed.

I should have opened the banner the day I got it or one of the numerous times I started to since the party supplies arrived.

After I composed myself, I told Zac that I knew what the title of my next column would be.

He said he was glad that I could laugh about the goof. I admitted that I had to laugh to keep from crying.

I hung the banner anyway before we went to church. I thought it would make a funny picture for my Facebook page and a cute story to tell Wyatt down the road.

But God knew that there was more to the lesson I needed to learn.

The message at church that day was about Jesus' visit to Mary and Martha.

For those who aren't familiar with the story, Mary and Martha were sisters and friends of Jesus. One day when he is with them, Mary sits at his feet listening to Jesus while Martha is on kitchen duty.

Martha can't believe that Jesus is letting her work alone. She basically demands that he tell her sister to help her.

When I have heard or read this passage before, the focus has always been on the verse where Jesus says, "one thing is needful and Mary hath chosen that good part."

On Sunday, my eyes were opened to his first words to Martha -- "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things."

The minister pointed out that Martha must have been concerned with more than making sure everyone had enough cake and punch. Worrying seemed to be a habit of hers.

I wonder if Martha, like me, always tried to control the chaos of life.

People like us are smart enough to know that we can't control the really big things (like tornadoes), so we devote ourselves to doing what we can (like organizing make-up first birthday parties).

Jesus sees Martha and I working so hard on insignificant things and finally has to say, "Girls, chill. I'm so close but you are so far away."

God is using recent events to teach me several lessons. One of them is that I need His help, not the other way around.

On a related note, former Piggly Wiggly customers can now visit the handsome produce man we all know and love at Bozeman's in Sumiton.

I know he will enjoy seeing all of you whether you buy his bananas or not.