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Guidance From Gloria

by Jan Ackerson  
8/25/2008 / Humor

From where I sat, I could see the mailboxand I checked it every eighty-seven seconds. This was the day that my first published piece was due to arrive, and I couldn't wait to see my name in print, on an article that would be read by millions.

Well, thousands. Okay, hundreds. It was just a little article on raising teenage girls, published in the newsletter of my small denomination. But stillmy own byline! I checked the mailbox again. A robin landed on its silver surface, built a nest, laid eggs, and taught its hatchlings to fly before finally the mailman arrived with a bundle of billsand the newsletter.

I ran to the mailbox with a yelp, startling Mr. McFeely, and leafed through the newsletter until I found my article. Thereon page four"Modesty: The Forgotten Virtue", by Gloria Baines.

I hugged the newsletter to my chest, causing a small storm of bills to rain on my feet. Gathering them up, I walked back inside, rereading the article that I'd already read roughly a bazillion times.

"It is now appropriate to allow your 13- and 14-year old daughters to wear cleavage-revealing tops and ultra-mini skirts"


It is NOW appropriate?

Oh no oh no oh nooooooooo

I tore to my computer and checked the Word file. The correct word was there: not. The error wasn't mine.

But would anyone else know that?

As I quietly thumped my head on the computer, I heard someone enter the house. Thinking it was Jackson, home from his husbandly chores, I poked my head around the corner, hoping for sympathy.

A man wearing the logo of my conservative Christian university was removing my framed diploma from the wall.

"Wait!" I cried, but he was already gone.

What else could go wrong?

Minutes later, a UPS truck pulled into the driveway. A brown-uniformed fellow hefted a cardboard box onto my front porch, tipped his hat, and swiftly departed.

I don't know who sent it, but it was a large boot attached to a swinging pole: a Kick-Yourself-in-the-Rear machine.

Worked pretty well, too.

After a lengthy session with the rear-kicker, and with Jackson nowhere in sight, I decided to run some errands. I gingerly hopped into the car (sore bottom) and drove to town.

Surely it was my imagination; as I walked downtown it seemed to me that people were turning their headsstaringpointingwhispering behind their hands. And there, across the streetdid that man's sandwich board actually read BOYCOTT GLORIA BAINES?

I bought aspirin and chocolate at the pharmacy, then hurried back to the anonymity of my car. A low-flying plane drew my attention skyward; it was towing a banner that read GLORIA BAINESWORST WRITER EVER.

I hid in my house the rest of the day, occasionally making use of my fun new machine. Jackson watched, shaking his head.

In church the next morning, I was horrified to see a horde of teenaged girls dressed in low-cut tops and miniskirts, grinning at me. Adolescent boys gave me the "thumbs up". Parents scowled. I slunk home

Wellokay, I can't sustain this any longer. None of that actually happened. Except the typo.

What really happened is that I sulked for three days, imagining that my short-lived writing career was over. I had been humiliated, and worse, my credentials as an expert on raising godly girls were in question.

On the fourth day, the editor called me with an apology. They'd reprint a corrected version of the article, Mr. Rhodes said, and he asked me how I felt about writing a monthly column.

The typo had generated three e-mails and a phone call, all highly amused. One mother had asked if she should take her 9-year-old daughter to get her belly button pierced, or would a tattoo be better?

No one has ever accused me of being less than gracious. I accepted Mr. Rhodes' apology and took the monthly column. You're reading it right nowwelcome, millions of new readers!

In the months to come, I hope to cover more meaty spiritual issues, particularly dealing with the family. For this month, though, I'll leave you with this advice--stop kicking yourself. Here's how Paul said it: "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)

Put that swinging boot in the garage.

Jan is a Christian who has traveled through sorrow and depression, and has found victory and grace. She dedicates all writings to her Heavenly Father. Check out Jan's website at
Copywrite Jan Ackerson--2006

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