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Day 20 of Lent – Bending the rules

March 4, 2013

Verse for reflection: I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Ephesians 1:16-17.

My five-year-old was heartbroken. We couldn’t find the library book she had brought home from school and she wouldn’t be allowed to bring another one home until she had returned that one. Sensible rule.

We hunted in all the logical places, then the illogical ones. My usual line about “I’m sure it will turn up,” just didn’t comfort her. On library day at school, she was always left out.


After three weeks of not getting anywhere, I called the school librarian and explained the situation. “I’ll be glad to pay for the book,” I offered, “so Tanya can start bringing books home again.”

The librarian with the sensible rule also turned out to have a sensible head. “Well, books turn up so frequently soon after parents have paid for a book, and I have to go through all the book work,” she said, with the wisdom of ages. “I’ll tell you what; since you called, I’ll go ahead and let Tanya bring books home again. I know you’ll be responsible. If you still haven’t found it by the end of the year, then I’ll let you pay.”

I could have kissed her. Tanya’s eyes as she got off the bus that day were my reward. “Mrs. Fisher let me have a book today!” she sang out.

When I saw Mrs. Fisher several weeks later at school, I told her we still hadn’t found it. “You know,” she said without a hint of condescension, “books so often turn up caught behind a bureau or desk right at the top of the baseboard. They don’t slide down so you can see them from the floor, and it’s hard to see behind the furniture.”

I was sure I had looked in all those places but I went home and checked behind older sister’s platform bed. Sure enough, as though Mrs. Fisher had snooped through our house, there it was. That day Tanya’s eyes really did shine when I showed her the lost book.


Mrs. Fisher, to us, had the smarts of a King Solomon, the experience of long years dealing with children, parents, and books, and when to offer grace.

Action: Do I seek God’s wisdom and revelation, as Paul reminds us in Ephesians? What gems are waiting for our discovery? One of the things that fascinates me about reading scripture is that no matter how often I’ve read a passage, it can speak fresh to me each time. Even though God’s word doesn’t change, we change, and look at things differently, and God’s spirit can speak to us with a new word for each day and situation, if we are persistent. We can also rejoice that God always extends grace, even when we’ve messed up.


Our children were fortunate to attend a wonderful local elementary school with fantastic teachers and staff, including Mrs. Fisher. This story first appeared in my book, Why Didn’t I Just Raise Radishes? Herald Press, 1994).


From → Faith, Family Life

  1. From a child’s perspective, Mrs. Fisher always seemed so formidable–the quintessential eagle-eyed, wolf-eared, older lady librarian. But hearing all these behind-the-scenes stories of things she did for us (and I’m sure many other children) just goes to show that those kid-judgments can often be wrong!

  2. It took some courage and swallowing pride to give her that phone call. Wolf eared?? Good description! The incident changed my view of her forever.

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