by Frieda Cowling
As long as I can remember, I dreamed of being a wife and mother (and now grandmother)—God’s highest calling for a woman. The most important decision in our lives is salvation, but I believe the second most important decision is choosing the person we will marry. God blessed me with a wonderful husband and four children— precious gifts from God. However, nothing in my life has been the object of more prayer, time, effort, love and discipline than the rearing of these children. At birth, I gave each child back to the Lord, praying that they would allow God to direct their individual paths.
Part of this training involved teaching each child to work. When they were 2 1⁄2, they were taught to make the bed, pick up toys and do daily chores. You may think, “What a help!” Actually, just the opposite was true. It would have been much faster and easier to do all their jobs myself. I spent hours teaching them to do the job, repeating the instructions, praising when the job was done correctly, repeating the instructions, punishing when the job was not done, and repeating the instructions. At no time were our children allowed to sleep until noon.
In the summertime, we had breakfast and family altar, and everyone worked from 8:00 a.m. until noon. Jobs were assigned, and we put on lively music and worked together— scrubbing walls, waxing floors, and cleaning out closets. The rest of the day their time could be used as they chose (within the rules of our home, of course).
When our youngest son Keith was 15, he was offered a summer job working with drywall with Kevin, his older brother. I was rather skeptical because I knew he was inexperienced and several years younger than the guys with whom he would be working. I knew he was a hard worker, but I wasn’t sure he was mature enough to succeed at this job. I did not want to damage his self- confidence by failing even when he gave his best effort.
My husband was on tour with a college singing group for Hyles-Anderson College for two months, so I was left in charge. Before he started the job, we talked about the importance of finishing what you start. I told him if he took the
drywall job, I didn’t want him to quit. Keith, typical of most 15-year- olds, was confident that he would have no problem with the job at all. He started unloading and carrying drywall sheets and cleaning up. I could see the job wasn’t all he had imagined, but he didn’t complain.
It was a “Red Letter Day” when he was promoted from a carrier to hanging drywall in closets (where his mistakes would not show!). He fell off the scaffolding. I said nothing. One day he came in with a bandage on his forehead covering several stitches. He said, “I was hammering with a drywall hammer, brought it back, and cut my own head. Kevin took me to the doctor.” I said nothing.
Two days later I heard the front door open and close in the middle of the day, and Keith sheepishly walked in with a huge bandage on his hand. He explained that he had been ripping down old drywall and slipped, tearing his finger from top to bottom. Once again Kevin took him to the doctor where he received many stitches. He stood there, covered with blood, looking very dejected—as if he wanted to say
something but was afraid.
“What is bothering you,” I asked, “beside the fact that you won’t be able to work until the bandage comes off your hand?”
“Mom, Doug Jackson (his boss), says you will make me quit! Will you?”
To be honest, the mother in me longed to say “yes,” but, remembering my promise to God, I answered, “Keith, I am not rearing a quitter. I am rearing a man. Men keep going when trials come and accidents happen, but I hope you will learn from these accidents. It may take you all summer to learn to work like the guys who are older and more experienced. If you chop off your head or your hand, you won’t be working at all!”
When Keith walked across the platform of First Baptist Church of Hammond to accept his diploma, he had the satisfaction of knowing he had paid his own way through college, plus he had sent bus kids to City Baptist Schools, by hanging drywall. I saw not only a son of whom I am very proud, but a man God has called to preach. God is so good!