The Sunshine Yellow Problem

By Linda Porter Carlyle

 Joseph Anderson Donetti stared at Mac. “That’s the worst idea you’ve ever had!” he exclaimed. “One ‘Sunshine Yellow’ wall? One red wall? One white wall? And one green wall? It would be the ugliest Mother’s Room on the face of the earth!”

Mac put her hands on her hips. Her eyes flashed. It almost looked as if sparks were leaping from her tight red curls. “What do you mean?” she demanded. “It’s a perfectly wonderful idea! Don’t you want the babies to learn the story of salvation? And babies like bright colors! Haven’t you ever looked at baby toys? They’re all bright blue and bright red and yellow and stuff. You don’t know a good idea when you hear one! You wouldn’t know a good idea if it walked up and hit you on the head!”

“I would too!” Joseph shouted. “But four walls with four different colors is not artistic! It’s ugly!

“I don’t care what you think!” Mac hollered back. “You’re not an official artist! I bet G.M. likes my idea! Why don’t you ask her?”

G.M. held up her hands like a traffic cop. “Whoa!” she said. “Do you guys think we could discuss this little problem in a normal tone of voice? What are you so upset about anyway?”

Mac looked at Joseph. Then she looked back at G.M. She sniffed. “You’d think a person who’s a friend wouldn’t be so rude when he’s talking about his friend’s great ideas!” she said.

“I just told her the truth!” Joseph protested. “There’s nothing wrong with telling the truth, is there?”

G.M. tried to keep her mouth from smiling. “Wasn’t Pastor Chuck just commenting on how tactful you guys can be? Wasn’t he proud of the way you just encouraged Mrs. Anderson? What happened to you two?”

Joseph started to say something, and then he thought better of it.

Mac angrily wiped the back of her hand across her eyes. “It was just that I thought my idea was so perfect!” she said. “And Joseph was so mean!

Joseph looked down at his sneakers. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “I must have used up all my tactfulness with Mrs. Anderson.”

“You could always pray for more,” Trevor suggested.

Mac giggled.

“Go into the Fireside Room and get four folding chairs,” G.M. directed. “Bring them in here. We’ll sit down and discuss our little problem calmly.”

The kids dashed out the door. Soon they were back, dragging the folded-up chairs behind them. Joseph got there last. He was dragging two.

“Thank you,” G.M. said. “Now let’s sit down and look at this room.”

It was quiet for a little while except for the squeaks Mac’s chair made when she wiggled.

“I still like it yellow,” Trevor said softly.

“I think the yellow’s growing on me too,” G.M. agreed.

“I’ve got an idea!” Joseph said suddenly. “We could still paint a mural on the biggest wall like we planned. And we could leave the other walls yellow for now. I mean most of the other walls aren’t whole walls. The window takes up a lot of space there,” he pointed. “The door takes up space over there. And the only reason you decided to use light gray paint was because the mothers wanted a soothing color. Maybe they’ll like the yellow after we’re all done.”

“I just remembered something my dad always says when he paints our bedrooms,” Trevor put in. “He always says paint’s cheap enough. That’s what he tells my mom when she says she’s not sure she’ll like the color we picked out. He means that if she hates it, he can always paint another color over it later. And this yellow was even better than cheap. It was free!”

“Well, you’ve convinced me,” G.M. said. “This Mother’s Room is going to have yellow walls. At least for a while. Now what about our mural?” she asked. “Any ideas?”

“We could do the fiery furnace,” Trevor suggested.

“You’ve got to be kidding!” Mac exclaimed. “Are you out of your mind?”

Joseph and Trevor sputtered with laughter. Joseph gave Trevor a high five.

“Let me put in a word,” G.M. said. “Since the color of our walls is not exactly soothing, perhaps the mural should be. How about a garden scene?”

“Like the Garden of Eden!” Mac exclaimed, bouncing. “We could paint lots and lots of flowers. All different kinds of flowers all over the whole wall. And maybe paint some animals too.”

“That’s a good idea,” Joseph said. “Because if some of the other kids want to help too, they could always paint their own flowers or animals. Then they could always say, ‘I did that one. And that one!’”

“It’s settled,” G.M. said. She reached into her big canvas carryall bag. “I checked this book on flowers out of the library this morning. Take a look at it, and tell me what your favorites are.”

Joseph, and Mac, and Trevor pulled their chairs close together. Three heads bent over the library book.

“I love the names of these flowers!” Mac exclaimed. “Rose of Sharon! Foxglove! And listen to this name—wooly lousewort!”

“Red hot pokers! I want to paint red hot pokers,” Joseph decided.

“Maybe we could write the name under each flower,” Trevor suggested, looking up. “Our mural would be educational and beautiful. I know babies can’t read,” he added. “But the mothers can.”

“How’s it going?” Pastor Chuck asked, poking his head in the door.

Mac, and Joseph, and Trevor all tried to tell him at once.

Pastor Chuck looked over their heads at G.M. “It sounds a lot better in here now than it did a while ago,” he said. “I thought I actually heard shouting earlier.”

Mac and Joseph glanced guiltily at each other. “You did,” Joseph admitted.

Pastor Chuck grinned. “But I see you have discovered the truth of this week’s memory verse,” he said. “You have studied the memory verse, haven’t you?” he asked.

Nobody nodded.

“OK,” Pastor Chuck said. “But you all better know it by Sabbath when we review! This verse is, ‘How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.’” He pointed a finger at Mac. “And when the Bible says brothers, it means brothers and sisters too!” he added.

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