From Connections: A Stressful Day

Connections: Member to Member is an advertising supplement to each print version of The Journal: News of the Churches of God. The following is a children's story, a regular feature of Connections.

By Donna Clark

In a hurry to catch the school bus, Jessica Stemmons rushed through the kitchen, slinging her backpack over her shoulder. She could hear Mr. Wilson blowing the horn as he barreled down the street toward her house.

With no time to spare, she grabbed the lunch sack her mom passed off to her as expertly as a relay team handing off a baton. She and her mom were good at this. In a household as crazy as theirs, you learned to work together. Either that, or someone ended up with no breakfast, late for work or both.

The Stemmons household wasn't much different from any other on their block. Mr. Stemmons commuted every morning to his job in the city. Mrs. Stemmons was lucky enough to be able to stay home with the kids while they were younger, but, now that Jessica and Mark (her younger brother) were both in school, she spent 30 hours a week working at a nursing home not far from where they lived.

"What's this, Mom?" Jessica asked as she reached for the screen door.

Her mom had taped what looked like a note of some kind to her lunch sack.

"That's your official excuse form for the holy days."

Having just ended spring break, this was the first time Jessica had been to school since the Days of Unleavened Bread began.

"Give it to your principal first thing this morning so you can be excused for the last holy day."

"But, Mom," Jessica wailed, as she heard the bus screech to a halt in front of her house, "I don't need it. All my teachers already know I won't be there."

"Take it anyway, Jessica. Even if it isn't necessary, it won't hurt anything."

"Yeah, right," Jessica muttered to herself as she rushed through the door.

By lunchtime Jessica and the other kids at school had pretty much gotten over their excitement of seeing each other after a week of vacation and had moved on to the business of getting through another day. She had spotted her principal, Mr. Rhodes, in the hallway right after the bell rang this morning. He happened to be alone at the time, so she discreetly handed him her excuse form. It turned out to be no big deal. Whew! One stress gone!

Jessica and Angie (Jessica's best friend at school) always ate lunch together.

"Can you believe Mrs. Carter is making us write that essay in class? I can't think under pressure," complained Angie.

Jessica was only halfway listening to her friend as she plopped down in her chair. With only 20 minutes to eat your lunch, you had to hurry. As she opened her lunch sack, Jessica discovered what could be described only as peanut butter smeared between two pieces of vinyl flooring!

Oh no! Her mom had made her rye-krisp sandwiches!

Okay, calm down, she thought. I can handle this. I'll just keep my hands inside the bag and when Angie turns to talk to the girls at the next table I'll sneak a bite.

Jessica really wasn't anxious to eat, anyway. She realized she didn't have much of an appetite after all.

Just then Jessica looked up to see Angie for the first time since they had sat down. The look on her face told her something was wrong.

"What's the matter, Angie? Are you feeling okay?"

Slowly, Angie shoved her lunch sack toward Jessica.

"Please don't take anything out, Jessica. It's too embarrassing."

Inside the bag Jessica could see one rice cake, three carrot sticks and a low-cal nutrition drink.

"I guess Mom thinks I put on some weight during spring break," Angie whispered. "Is it obvious? Are the kids talking about me?"

"Don't be ridiculous! You look great," Jessica reassured her. "Besides, this isn't diet food. This is health food! That just means your mom cares about you. Look, my mom gave me health food too," she laughed. "We don't have much time left. Let's eat!"

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