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The Old Birds Shout “Hallelujah”

By January 17, 2020April 26th, 2024No Comments

                                                                                                         Psalm 149

Mark was sulking again. He sulked about the new squeak in the floor, the grass in the yard, the birds’ nests on the porch, the leaves on the trees, the clutter in the garage, but mostly he sulked about the squash that Joy served every week without fail, multiple times.

One summer night, out of the blue, he made a declaration. “I want a dog.”

Joy finished chewing her yummy bite of pan-seared zucchini. “We’re not getting a dog.”

One week later. “I want a dog.”

“We’re not getting a dog.”

Two days later as Joy was slicing a beautiful yellow squash, Mark texted pictures of puppies. Joy responded: We’re not getting a dog.

The next day, he talked about top dog toys. Joy put in her ear buds and listened to Josh Groban. The next day, he camped out on his computer for hours, studying dog food brands. Joy turned off the WiFi. The next day, he wanted to buy a book of baby names. Joy hid the credit card and the debit card and his wallet.

Things were definitely getting out of hand. The man probably needed more squash. Joy steamed a succulent spaghetti variety, forked out the strands and topped it with a delicious Bolognese sauce. But what followed next could only be described as…well, disturbing.

Mark entered the kitchen, took one look at the skillet and threw himself on the floor, howling, “You expect me to eat that again?!!!!”

Joy had never seen an adult temper tantrum up close and certainly not from her husband of 34.5 years, but as a mother of four, she found fits extremely entertaining. Happily, they were becoming quite common in the Cleveland clan. One granddaughter was regularly scoring 9 out of 10, while the other was closing in with a strong 8.5. In the tornado category, both girls were nearing F5 status with total home destruction and violent food throwing. It was SO much better than watching Netflix!

As Joy thought of her darling granddaughters, she couldn’t help but burst into song: Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo. Baby Shark, doo doo…

Mark suddenly stopped howling and said in a strangled voice. “I just want a dog.”

“We’re not getting a dog. Doo doo doo doo….

But as Joy sang, a small crack appeared in her old lady resolve. 2019 had really been a whopper of a year…

There was Joy’s bizarre ‘book thing.’ Since she couldn’t sew, knit, crochet, or weave baskets, she regularly strung words together. After many years, a story strangely appeared, and then even more strangely, it became a book. And just a few months after the book ‘popped out,’ Joy discovered something else was going to ‘pop’ out in 2020! Another grandbaby! Grandma Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo doo…

Joy kept thinking…2019 had also brought lots of business stuff to manage, crazy hours at the office, tons of mowing, and of course, the endless bird poop on the porch. Why get a dog? Wasn’t life nutty enough? But one look at her writhing husband…

One week later, they got a dog.

One month later, they wondered why they got a dog. Run away, doo doo doo doo doo doo…But somehow the Old Birds survived the shredded clothes, the mutilated toilet paper, the chewed up shoes, the teeth marks, the missing socks. They stuffed their pockets with dog treats and poop bags and squeaky balls and tried to be ‘good parents,’ falling into bed each night with one plea: Please, God, please, could you please, please, PLEASE make this dog sleep all night!

Meanwhile, some of the other family members were ‘knee deep’ in candy. Joy’s youngest child and husband had just started ‘adulting’ in their first home and had been ambushed by a tidal wave of Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween. In lieu of funding their 401ks, the couple now planned to open a tax-free dark chocolate account.

Her son and his wife had just reached a new parenting milestone: survival of over 1000 toddler meltdowns. Following all the latest blogs, her son immediately ordered raw cocoa beans and started making homemade chocolate bars. At last report, the toddler’s fits were down 423% due largely to daily chocolate supplementation. Who knew the child was deficient?

Joy couldn’t help but fret after hearing her firstborn’s latest plans (besides running a marathon.) Her daughter was showing signs of the ‘insanity gene,’ a mutant gene typically expressed when viewing pictures of puppies. In October, DNA testing confirmed the truth and within weeks, her daughter was stuffing her pockets with dog treats and poop bags and squeaky balls and moaning the name “Harper” while she slept.

Joy immediately got on her knees to ask the Lord for mercy for her eldest child, but before she could say ‘amen,’ little paws skittered across the tile, dragging another roll of toilet paper to its untimely death.

“Hallelujah!” Joy ran for the puppy and trapped it behind the recliner. “You stop that!”

But the little chocolate and caramel dog soon eluded her Mommy and escaped to the bathroom where she began to annihilate the poor helpless tp roll with her jowls of death. Joy grabbed a dog treat, threw it toward the puppy, and somehow rescued the roll when the little varmint’s mouth opened for a split second. The now exhausted new-old mother sank to the floor, wondering why she had given such a spiritual name to such a naughty dog for the little furry brat was officially known as Hallelujah Cleveland, Hallie for short. But the answer was obvious. “Hallelujah” means “Praise the LORD,” and it was with grateful hearts that the Old Birds gave thanks for the Lord’s grace in 2019.

But greater still was His love for all of mankind, which ‘popped out’ as a tiny babe whose birth we now celebrate at Christmas and whose death has saved us all. Hallelujah, indeed.

A very Merry Christmas to you!

                                                                               P.S. Safe at last, doo doo doo doo doo doo…


Author Joy Cleveland writes Small Town Contemporary Christian Romances that will warm your heart, feed your soul, and quite possibly tickle 'your funny bone.' A product of small town living, Joy strives to craft characters that feel like family and places that feel like home. Currently, she calls Iowa home. When she's not tapping computer keys, she's playing with grandkids, mowing grass, or chasing her dog. A lover of words, she's published short stories, plays for children, and quirky newsletters. "To Call My Own' is her first novel.

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