Sunday, January 20, 2013

In the Numbers

What's up with this photo?
(This post appears in the Christian Home Magazine. Check it out!)

     Have you ever noticed that the rules of conventional math don't seem to apply to motherhood?

     For example, I gained a respectable 33 pounds when I was pregnant with my oldest son, Nate. After delivering a six-pound, five-ounce baby boy, I hopped on the bathroom scale and saw that I weighed exactly one pound less than I did before the doctors spliced me open and yanked Nate out.

     Or what about breastfeeding? Let's say I produced 6 ounces of breast milk each time I nursed. Then how in the world did my cute little newborn produce at least five pounds of wet or dirty diapers each and every day?

     You know when else those conventional math rules stop applying to mothers? When we're trying to get our kids ready to go outside in the winter. 

     Case in point: Today, we were going to meet another family for a little sledding party. I started getting everybody bundled up twenty minutes before we had to leave. Sounds like plenty of time, until you break it down minute per minute:
  • Send everyone to the bathroom first. (You can tell this veteran mom has had a few winters to learn this lesson, right?) Estimated time: 2 minutes.
  • Put snow pants on all three boys. Estimated time: 3 minutes.
  • Look for socks (don't bother matching). Estimated time: 2 minutes.
  • Socks first, then boots. 3 minutes.
  • Find mittens (4 minutes) then put them on (1 minute). Total time: 5 minutes.
  • Hats. 1 minute.
  • Try to put on coats, realize they won't fit over mittens, take mittens off, put on coats. Then put on mittens again, for a total of 5 more minutes. 
     So, after 19 minutes,  the three boys were completely bundled. That left me 1 minute to get myself dressed, get everyone to the car, get everyone buckled in the car, grab our sleds, and go. Easy right? Well, I got myself dressed in about 3 minutes (so we now were officially 2 minutes late), after which time my kids were already sweating in their sledding gear. We were about to go out the door, but I had to stop to gather my keys and cell phone. By then we were 3 minutes late. The kids were filing out the door (moving suspiciously like penguins) when I realized that I forgot to use the bathroom. (Don't sound like so much of a veteran mom anymore, do I?)
     By the time we pulled out the driveway, we were 10 minutes late. Which is ok, since our friends (who have a significantly larger family than we do) arrived to our sledding party 3 and a half minutes after we did. (It's only when meeting another family for a playdate in the snow when you end up 10 minutes late and are still 3 and a half minutes early.)

     Interestingly, have you ever noticed that God's economics don't seem to follow simple arithmetic rules, either? We're told in the New Testament that Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once after his resurrection. But in Acts 1 when the early church is gathered, there are only 120 believers. What happened to the other 380 who saw the risen Savior? Sometimes I read the Bible and wonder if God even uses the same calculators I use. I mean, Jesus could have performed miracles for thousands upon thousands, but he preferred to spend his time investing in the Twelve. Doesn't sound like the most direct method to see your church numbers grow, does it?

     Speaking of numbers, here's an interesting set of them for you. When God sent manna to the Israelites, he told them to gather an omer for each member of their family. For those of us unfamiliar with that particular unit of measurement, Moses helps us out significantly by explaining to us in Exodus 16:36 that (and I quote), "an omer is one-tenth of a ephah." (Thankfully, the good folks at Zondervan who published my Bible included a footnote to tell me that a tenth of an omer is about 3 pounds.)

     There you have it. Each Israelite ate about 3 pounds of manna a day. That doesn't sound too extraneous, right?

     Until you start thinking about how many Israelites God had to feed. Exodus 12 estimates, "There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children" (37). (Now, before you get your feminist feathers all ruffled because Moses refused to count the women and children, just think about how many youngsters would have been running around that big, vast wilderness. Just imagine how stressful it would have been on all those poor moms if Moses made everybody stand still to get counted. Look at it that way, and it's no wonder he only counted the men!)

     So, if there are over half a million men, there's almost certainly that many women, or maybe more (remember, boy babies who grew up in Moses' generation in Egypt were killed!). Add in all their children, and some Bible scholars estimate as many as 3 million Jews were out camping in the wilderness. And what did they eat? Three pounds of manna a day. Per person.

     Let's be conservative in our numbers. Let's say for every Israelite man who left Egypt, there was one Israelite woman. Now let's say each man and woman had 2 kids. That's already 2.4 million people, who would require 7.2 million pounds of manna a day.

     Makes you kinda wonder why God didn't pull a loaves and fish on them all, doesn't it?

     For the most part, I'm glad God's economics are the way they are. He doesn't always work things out in the way that makes the most mathematical or logical sense. I'm still going to make sure my own boys get a good, solid dose of math practice a week, but I'm also going to allow for some days like today where we don't accomplish an omer of math, but have fun playing in ephahs and ephahs of snow.

     Even if we arrive 10 minutes late. 
What about you? When do your "numbers" not add up? Or what about God's economics surprises or amazes you? (Feel free to leave your comments below.)


  1. Well, no wonder you were late! No lady ought to call herself a *veteran* mom until she has at least 4 kids and the eldest is at least 10 years old. The nerve! =0P (Just kidding.)

    God-math has saved us so many times. A good thing, too, since my kids use child-math to consume three times their body weight everyday without getting the least bit chubby. Or full.