Monthly Archives: January 2021

Why We Love Daddy

Hey, Guys!  This is “The Peaches” speaking.  And I want to tell you a story that comes from an era almost 30 years ago–when the only person in the whole world who called me “The Peaches” was John Branyan, my dad…

I was probably in First Grade.  Maybe Second?  And that would mean my little brother, Tim, was in Kindergarten.  (The other two Branyan siblings hadn’t made their debuts yet.) 

At that time, there was nothing we liked more than our special juice boxes (especially frozen, so we could eat them with a spoon!)…and playing with the Forbidden White Board tucked in a corner of the office.

You see, our parents joined a certain Multi-Level Marketing company during the rise of the MLMs in the early 90s.  It wasn’t Pampered Chef or Longaberger… But you might be able to guess the name as I continue telling this tale.

My little brother and I were not allowed to touch the white board and dry erase markers, because “daddy needs them for work.”  Whenever we’d ask for specifics about exactly what type of work Daddy was doing to be afforded such enviable tools of the trade, we were told, “he teaches people” or “he shows people how things work.”     

But these explanations never really satisfied our curiosity.

Finally, perhaps in exasperation, my mom told Tim and I: “Your dad is the Marker Man!” 

And, suddenly, it was perfectly clear why HE was allowed to use The Markers, while the two of us were not.  We finally accepted we needed to stay away from the sacred white board, until such time as we could become Marker People, like him…

Now, I’ve since learned the term “Marker Man” was not unique with my parents.

In fact, the title is the intellectual property of the marketing strategy organization hired by the MLM my parents joined, to teach their independent consultants how to run a business.   I’m throwing that in here because I’m not trying to get slapped with a lawsuit for copyright infringement.  I only want to describe an actual memory I have from my actual childhood.

Continuing on…

One day, my mom told us she had a project to surprise Dad on Father’s Day. We were going to make a special book for him—filled with all the reasons we loved him.    

In a stroke of poetic genius, we decided to title it, “The Why We Love Daddy Book.”

I don’t remember each reason word-for-word.  But I think one of them said “because he plays catch with us,” with a rudimentary illustration of a ball and bat.   One page said, “…because he wears a tie.”  (I mean, what’s not to love about a guy like that?) 

Near the end of our brainstorming session, Tim shouted out: “We love him because he’s THE MARKER MAN!”   (He was pleased with himself, knowing this would make Dad laugh—which was always a main goal of ours.)

—–

Why am I telling you this today?  Why was I even THINKING about this random piece of my past?

Well, because…

I’ve been working as the Event Coordinator for my dad’s comedy career more than 7 years–and I’ve suddenly realized:

I still love that he’s the Marker Man.

He still goes to work and helps people understand things more clearly.

Slowly, slowly, we’ve been scheduling fewer stand-up gigs, and replacing them with consulting opportunities.  My dad literally wrote a book about how to be funny.  He can take any speech, sermon, or blog post and find the humor buried in them. 

People who make their living in performance arts are calling him WEEKLY to pick his brain and regain their sense of purpose. And, though Dad doesn’t use literal markers much anymore, he has a way of drawing pictures with his words to bring clarity to a situation.

Daddy teaches people. 

He shows people how things work.

And—guys—he even pays me to be a fellow Marker Person on his behalf!    (No kidding. I have a complete set of assorted colors.)

Years ago, my brother and I didn’t know what it meant to “go to work” and “help people learn stuff.” But I understand much better now.    As an adult, I can see my dad is thoughtful and creative and a gifted communicator.  It’s a joy to glean wisdom from him, when he shares pointers about things he has spent decades studying himself.

Dad doesn’t sell JUICE BOXES anymore. But he understands the philosophy of Funny Stuff better than he ever understood food service.  

And, when you contact John Branyan Comedy, I can go on and on about all there is to love about him.

Do you want to consult with John about how to use humor to make your life better? Give me a call:  888-203-0372 or email amanda@johnbranyan.com .  

If you book him as a speaker (whether it’s a workshop or fundraiser or Date Night Event, etc.) I know you’re going to love my dad, too…  

…And, if you ask, he might even wear one of his ties.

Motherhood is NOT Humbling

I had an epiphany at 3:30am, after changing my toddler’s wet sheets and tucking him back in bed. I was thinking about how deeply grouchy I get toward the middle of January every year…

During those barren, icy weeks, when the Christmas stuff has been returned to the boxes and it seems our motivation to tackle schoolwork was packed up with it–that’s when everything feels like such A JOYLESS CHORE.

I do a lot of yelling and feeling sorry for myself during this S.A.D. season.

“Why can’t you guys __________?”

“Ugh, of COURSE something like this would happen today!”

“You know, I have better things to do than _________.”

The dishes never stay washed. The toys never stay picked up. The homework never gets finished. And the Mother never has anything nice to say.

And it finally occurred to me in the wee hours of this morning:

Doing a bunch of humble tasks every day does NOT necessarily lead to humility; it can also lead to bitterness.

Is that shocking to think about, considering how often women are praised for their “humble role” and their seeming ability to “do it all?” Is it weird to call the problem “bitterness” when the world usually calls it “overworked” and “underappreciated” and “deserving a break?”

I think we talk about the “humble” role of motherhood all the time, without stopping to wonder whether we’re actually mothering humbly.

And, the truth is, I have found myself caught in a Pride Cycle, which many other mothers may recognize, if they stop to think about it with me:

#1. The kids do or say something legitimately ridiculous, rude, or self-serving, which we must correct. They make messes–we correct it. They fight–we correct them. And the repetition begins to establish itself. (So far, so good.)

#2. Then we start to keep a running tally of how much work we’re doing, and it occurs to us that not many people could handle the same stuff we’re juggling 24/7…

#3. Eventually, everything we do seems like an ‘A’ effort, while everything the rest of the family does is an ‘F.’ Our standards become the All-Encompassing Standard of Righteousness for everyone else, and no one measures up…

#4. Everyone, especially Mom, gets grumpier and grumpier, because it’s exhausting being a perfect Paragon of Servant Leadership, surrounded by failures.

What was especially jarring to me was how quickly I was tempted to DEFEND my pride–almost immediately after I noticed it. I jumped right back up to step #1 and clung to the fact that my kids genuinely make bad choices constantly, and somebody has to lay down the law.

It’s actually hard NOT to feeling a bit superior, when the people closest to you are regularly using their beds as toilets. It would be false humility to pretend I’m not better than that, I reasoned.

So maybe it bears repeating that–yes–our children do things all the time that are objectively, honestly NOT GOOD, and part of our role is to set standards with consistent enforcement. (Sometimes our husbands and parents and siblings and friends at church do things that are objectively, honestly NOT GOOD, too.)

But, there’s a difference between having godly expectations for our whole family and having an ugly, Prideful attitude accompanying it.

How can we know when that line has been crossed?

Well, for me, it’s when I start spiraling in misery and barking at everyone nearby, as if my emotional and spiritual well-being depends on their cooperation.

Yes, it’s hard not to become wise in our own eyes, when little people are coming to us constantly for the solution to problems. (And, I mean, they are really eeeeeasy problems to solve.) But if we’re falling apart over something as easy as putting sheets in the washer, are we really that much more mature?

Who’s acting childish here?

—–

The point is, I have been feeling very discontented lately. And I want to confess that publicly, because I finally realize the ugly sin which is hiding at the root of my bad attitude.

It’s pride.
No excuses.

Our culture’s response when a mom starts confessing like this is to pile on encouragement to reassure the mom that she meant well.

“Yes, you DO work hard.”

“Yes, it IS frustrating when no one obeys your good laws.”

“Yes, your kids and husband SHOULD appreciate you more.”

But, this only serves to feed the sense of Superiority, so it ultimately leaves us feeling worse…

Our discontentment grows as we feel trapped in an unfair situation where everyone knows we deserve better, but they just can’t give it to us because they’re SINNERS. So the best we can do is try to forgive them for failing to make Motherhood as fun as it could feel, if everyone worked harder.

The only way to stop the pride cycle is to call it what it is and ask God for help keeping it in check.

Again, completing a long list of humble jobs every day won’t automatically lead to godly humility. Sometimes it leads to bitterness and self-righteousness, when we spend all our time meditating on how much better our lives would be, if we didn’t have to deal with OTHER PEOPLE’S sins.

Lord, help me let go of my Superiority and be lowly in spirit.

Help me recognize all the ways I’ve let pride take over my subconscious, especially when the culture likes to insist there’s such a thing as good/healthy/necessary pride. Weed out my self-righteousness and replace it with godly humility, to set my household free of this monster.

Set us free from the Tyranny of my Flesh.

Lord, you are infinitely more deserving of the recognition than I am. (Look at what an angry, graceless god I become, over the smallest stuff!) Please forgive my arrogance and give me another chance to be HUMBLED by my role, rather than continuing to spin in the cycle of pride and bitterness.

On Repenting for Careless Words

How many MILLIONS of careless words are spoken every, single day? And when was the last time you bothered to think about all the toxic goop flowing out of your friends’ mouths, rather than absentmindedly joining the Vomit Fest?

I first started thinking about this when I was only a kid, meditating on cliched phrases like “God bless you” and “In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” I wondered if God ever got tired of looking up from his book, saying, “Yes? You called?” only to discover his children weren’t actually calling Him at all. They were brainlessly going through the motions again.

In fourth grade, I had a sunday school teacher who explained to my class that the Third Commandment regarding taking the Lord’s Name in vain referred to basically ANY word uttered in frustration, without thought.

He told us not to say “darn” or “heck” or “shoot,” because those are just substitute words designed to help us get as close to swearing as possible without getting in trouble. And he said not to say “Oh my,” because that’s just one breath away from “Oh my God.” (Texting didn’t exist at the time, but I’m absolutely certain he wouldn’t approve of the abbreviated “OMG,” even if you changed it to “OMGosh.” …because ‘gosh’ was another Substitute Word.)

Say what you will about that level of Legalism…

…at least it taught his students to CONSIDER their speech before letting it fly, even if they eventually determined (as I did) that ‘shoot’ isn’t a bad word… and, honestly, ‘shit’ isn’t automatically bad, either. (Fastforward about ten years to the first time I read “pisseth against the wall,” in the King James Bible and felt cheated out of important information!)

(I digress.)

Now that my fellow sunday school attendees are all grown up, I think we are faaaaaaar more concerned with calling out old-fashioned, pharisaical, Fundies like our old teachers than with asking ourselves whether God is pleased by our word choices.

It’s as if we’d rather swing to the OTHER extreme of slandering ourselves constantly–rather than risk being as conscientious and principled as our grandparents were. (Ugh, moral standards. How terrible.)

What do I mean?

Am I talking about the word “shit?”

No, I mean the fact that it has been less than a year since thousands of Christians were declaring a 2-year-old WOULD RISE FROM THE DEAD, because God was GOING TO WORK A MIRACLE and the grave was GOING TO RELEASE HER BACK TO HER PARENTS.

For four days, Christians sang songs and wrote social media comments and prophesied with enthusiastic heresies–and how many of them repented for taking the Lord’s name in vain, when their prophecies didn’t come true?

Did any of them?

Those warnings about keeping a tight rein on our tongues don’t apply in the New Covenant, I guess?

I’m talking about the fact that Paula White and other members of President Trump’s team declared that Trump WOULD WIN A VICTORY and that it WOULD BE A LANDSLIDE and that he’s NOT GOING ANYWHERE because he HIS GOD’S CHOSEN INSTRUMENT. Even after President Trump exhausted his legal efforts and announced there would be a change of administration (“peacefully”), some of his fans continued to exclaim that it’s NOT OVER, and Trump is STILL GOING TO PULL OUT A VICTORY…

Has anyone asked them how they’re going to react if all of that is just wishful thinking?

I’m talking about the fact that you will hear endless, unholy words just walking down the street if you start paying attention.

“I hate all this traffic.”

“I’ve never been so hungry.”

“If I have to wait in that line, I’ll scream.”

“I can’t take any more of this.”

“God bless you!”

Even in my house, you will regularly hear me say things like YOU KIDS ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY and I NEVER GET ANYTHING ACCOMPLISHED and I NEED A VACATION and dozens of other favorite swear words, which I don’t really mean and hardly hear myself say.

When I say things out of sadness or fear or frustration, I’m usually just emoting, selfishly and without thinking about what’s true.

That is to say: when I don’t care enough to watch my words, everything coming out of my mouth is saying “Truth be damned.”

No, I’m not talking about banishing the word “gosh” from your vocabulary.

But maybe we can make an effort to stop perjuring ourselves so often?

Maybe we can try saying what we really mean:

“If the Lord wills it, He will work a miracle.”

“I really, really want Trump to win the election because I think Joe Biden will make a bad President.

“I feel like saying angry words right now.”

(Or, more specifically in my case: “I’m so frustrated right now that I want to blame everyone else in the house for this mess, even though I know deep down it won’t make me feel much better.”)

True, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue as quickly and smoothly as, “Y’all are driving me crazy!” But maybe that’s the point.

Maybe that’s why James told his readers to be “slow to speak” and the writer of Proverbs said “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life.”

I know how tempting it is to unload the first thing that pops into our head when we feel Big Feelings. But, for the love of God, can we try to get a grip on our careless declarations? (See what I did there? I intentionally chose a forceful phrase that included God’s name. Isn’t that clever?)

THINK about what you’re typing and talking about today.


“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak …” Matthew 12:3