The call came in last night from my youngest daughter. She is serving all summer long at Camp Hosanna in Hiawassee, Ga., and I could not be more proud of her. But since we have always been a tight-knit family, we have been in contact daily by call and text, and a whole lot of speaker phone conversations with everyone at once.
When I picked up the phone last night, she began as she usually does by just launching right in with no introduction. The conversation, one in which only she actually spoke, went as follows.
“So, it looks like I owe you an apology. Apparently there is such a thing as blinker fluid.”
At this point she turned her face away from the phone, and I could hear muffled voices speaking to her in the background. I clearly heard her say “WHAT?!?” in a very agitated voice. Then she turned her voice back to the phone and said, “Give me a minute, I’ll call you back!”
I hung up the phone and waited...
A moment later the phone rang again, I picked it up and said hello, and she immediately shouted, “I TAKE ALL OF THAT BACK!” I could hear uproarious laughter in the background as she hung up on me.
My night was officially made.
All of this stems back to an offhand comment from a few weeks ago. She was driving, I was in the passenger seat, the other two Wagner ladies were sitting behind us, and someone driving up ahead of us slowed and turned without the use of the turn signal. My youngest is the fiery type; lightning in a bottle from the word go. She huffed, “Seems like people might learn to use their turn signals at some point.”
Without even looking over at her, completely straight faced I said, “Baby, he may just be low on blinker fluid.”
“Wait,” she replied, “that’s not actually a thing.” I didn’t answer, I just kept looking straight ahead. But I knew the wheels were turning in her head.
Thus the phone call weeks later that resulted in laughter all around. Apparently she asked someone at camp who, knowing my mischievous nature, played along with game.
Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” I have often observed through the years that among Christian families there is a type of people who could best be described as “happily miserable.” Their chief aim in life seems to be the removal of anything that could produce laughter and happiness, and their chief doctrine seems to be that sourness and holiness are the same thing. I have watched as they have suffered the ravages of their own self-imposed gloom and have wished that they could learn to apply the medicine of a merry spirit to their dying homes.
Playful would be a good word, among others, to describe how all of our family relates one to another. My children know that we have rules, rules that my wife and I will and do enforce. They have curfews, standards of dress and behavior, expectations of their work and school, and more. But those are not the things that set the atmosphere of our home.
We pray together daily, but we also pun together daily. We go to church faithfully, we also go kayaking and hiking. We tell the truth, and we also tell jokes. We are honest with each other in every serious matter, and we also tease and try to fool each other in non-essentials like “blinker fluid.” Because of this, our home has been filled with laughter since they were very little, and there has never been screaming or cursing or threatening.
In case you are not clear, there is no blinker fluid that you need to worry about filling up in your vehicle. But joy, the sheer joy of being in a fun family, is most definitely something you need to keep a close check on and fill up whenever the level starts to sink. Families who somehow get sucked into the “sourness is holiness” paradigm tend to produce children who look just right on the outside but who are just biding their time till they get old enough to run for their lives. Those kids will be easy prey for every sin the world has to offer because the sinners around them at least seem to be having a good time while the home is as warm and inviting as a concrete barracks.
So smile. Laugh. Cut up. They say the family that prays together stays together; I say the family that prays together and plays together stays together.