A Country Dessert

With living in a small community, occasionally we were given desserts from ladies in the congregation. One time after church, the entire family was ushered into the church kitchen and this sweet, simple country woman set a lovely, homemade lemon meringue pie in front us.

“Pastor, I made this for you.”

Then she said, “This is your’n. This is your’n.”

Mom watched the wheels in our heads spinning as we conjured all the puns we could think of…”this is urine.” Mom’s eyes pierced us and we could read the daggers….”Don’t any of you kids Dare laugh….or crack a smile.”

Mom received the pie with genuine gratitude and we were all dutiful to say, “Thank you.” But once we were at home sitting at the dining room table savoring the “Urine pie”….we broke into gales of laughter.

 

A Final Final

In school, I often got test anxiety. In college, I had my legs crossed throughout the two hours I was taking my final. I was wearing a skirt and a slightly too warm sweater. I didn’t realize how nervous I was in this last Spanish class.

However, in the few short steps it took to walk to the professor’s desk, my legs gave out and I fell on my knees with my hands landing on the floor with a violent Smack. The class was shocked as was I. The professor immediately gasped, “Senorita, are you all right?”

It must have been the grace of God because somehow in a split second, I stood up, regained my composure, tossed the final on his desk, smiled and replied, “Yes. It was just a killer of a test!”

For those few minutes I was the star of the class. We all laughed together and I exited gracefully.

 A Mother’s Love

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These cuties are all grown up now…..

 

A mother’s love is deep and self-sacrificing. How I remember as young children, my siblings and I each took  $ 1.00 and went to the store to buy Mom a bottle of perfume for Mother’s Day. We wanted her to know how much we loved her. Each bottle had a different color lid on it—purple, red, yellow and blue. Daddy always purchased perfume for Mom—Chanel No. 5 and White Shoulders, so we just knew that she would love our choice of perfume for her.

She was so incredibly gracious and elaborate with her praise and gestures. We watched her lavish the individual fragrances on her arms and neck and exude, “Oh, it’s so lovely that you gave it to me. Oh, yes, Honey, I am wearing it.” And she did. We wanted her to wear our choice on Sundays, when we wanted her to smell really nice.  (What atrocious odors she wore for our sakes.) Years later as we reminisced, we all laughed until tears came out of her eyes.

How expansively she loved us. How many times did she lovingly drape a handcrafted macaroni necklace strung with simple yarn and proudly wear it to church because one of her children made it for her. She was a woman whose primary love language was “gift giving” and though our gifts were not expensive, in her eyes, they were indeed priceless, because they showed her that as our mother, she was loved dearly.

Fast forward to my life where my own sweet kids pondered what to make me for my birthday….several years ago when I was diagnosed with diabetes. They proudly served me a simple chicken breast with a candle and I can still remember the hopeful question, “Mama, do you really like it?” And, like my own mother, I sang their praise and delighted in their desires to bless me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dropped Bottom???

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I hated social settings. They filled me with fear and nervousness. I was in 6th grade and had just started wearing pantyhose. Since we were always on a tight budget, my mother would generally buy the cheapest items, regardless of quality. I was at a wedding reception in a dress, pantyhose and heels.

The Ramada Inn was lavish in its décor of reds and gold with tantalizing foods spread in abundance. Two glorious silver fountains beckoned thirsty guests to come and be refreshed. My mother discreetly informed me that one fountain offered champagne and the other was merely punch. She cautioned me because one time in their early years of ministry, my father ignorantly proceeded to drink champagne, much to my mother’s chagrin. Since she often reminded me that I had hardly any common sense, she was making sure that I wouldn’t repeat my father’s faux pau.

Obediently, I steered clear of the champagne fountain. I was sipping my drink while holding a plate with cake, nuts and mints on it, wondering where I could sit and eat without having both hands occupied. My eyes were scanning the walls for an empty chair when a waitress came to me.

She was short in her black dress, fishnet stockings, crisp white apron and cap. “Honey, you dropped your bottom.” She promptly skirted away to continue her tasks for the evening. I was thoroughly mystified and mortified. My mind reeled.Are my pantyhose hanging bunched around my ankles, again?!!! Or has the entire waistband dropped and the pantyhose are lying on the floor around my shoes???? Is my slip hanging? What in the world did she mean, “I dropped my bottom !?!?

I found my mother and through gritted teeth told her what the strange lady said. “Mo-ther, what did she mean? I dropped my bottom?” My mother looked at me with twinkling merriment as recognition dawned on her.

“Oh, honey, she means the bottom of your cup.” She walked to the non-forbidden fountain to demonstrate that these cups came in two parts to be assembled. By the time she finished explaining verbally and visually, all I longed for was that the reception would finish and I could go home, far away from social gatherings, baggy pantyhose and dropped bottoms!

Funky Music?

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Friends at a Costume Party…I’m in the blue dress with a white bow in my hair

 

You know you must be getting old… when the styles and music start repeating from your teenage years.  I recall back in my early years of marriage, when I was teaching that a particular song was popular. All the girls were talking about it and one student mentioned the title, “Play That Music, Funky White Boy.”

Puzzled, I commented, “You mean, ‘Play That Funky Music, White Boy?” Immediately, she got all excited, “That’s it! You mean you’ve heard it, too, Mrs. McElwee?”

I broke out into laughter. “Girls, that song was a Re-make when I was your age!”

 

Are You…His Mother?

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I have had my signature silver hair for a very long time and Ross has always been “baby-faced.” Of course, that fact that I am the older one of us, by 6 1/2 years only adds to that “difference.” That’s what comes from falling in love with a younger man. Thus, I insisted that he must always have a beard and a mustache because if not, people would really think that he’s my son and not my husband…. as has happened on more than one occasion.

After only a few months of living in our new remote Alaskan village of 200, it was time for the high school graduation. It is an honor for the elders to receive their food first and in this case, dessert. As the entire village was milling around the school gymnasium, a young 10-year-old girl looked at me.

“You can go get your dessert now.”DSC05996

Quizzically, I looked at her. “Why?”

She promptly responded, “Because you’re an elder.”

I smiled as I was just in my early 40’s and one needed to be 55 to qualify for that status.

“What makes you think I’m an elder?”

“Well, your hair.”

I burst out laughing, leaned down gently and said, “Honey, I’m not an elder. My hair might look really old, but I am not.”

Later when relating that story to some of my new friends in the village, they started laughing in embarrassment. I was puzzled and they finally told me why they were all so embarrassed.

“We all thought you were older. We all thought you were his mother!”

DSC06002So, our first Christmas in the village, we were debating what to do for the church
program and our oldest daughter, Rachel Joy, chuckles and looks at me, “Well, Mom, you’re too old to be the Virgin Mary.” So, Ross and I goofed off and teased about being Simeon and Anna…..which became reality.DSC05997

Ross purchased theatrical make-up and a bald cap and beard but then in order for it to be applied correctly, he realized that shaving might be the better route. Now you can see for yourself how young he looks. That’s Dad posing with his two sons and oldest daughter. He was nearly 39 in those pictures. The last shot is us, as Simeon and Anna.


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Fish Tales

Picture 1092One of the things Ross asked me while we still lived in Texas and were getting to know one another was, “What kind of fish do you like?”

I was puzzled and answered, “You know….fish.”

He prodded and asked, “What kind?”

“I don’t know. They are kind of golden, shaped like a rectangle with white on the inside. You know….fish.”

Picture 1347In Texas, our fish in the pond were small and I don’t recall ever really eating them. But God has a sense of humor because He later sent us to live on the Fish River in a remote Eskimo village in Northwestern Alaska. Ross proceeded early on to share that “Fish” story with our entire congregation, who got a great kick out of their new pastor’s wife.

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A “Bluegill” Bream from our pond in Texas

 

Our first summer, a Native woman in the community called and asked, “How many humpies would your family like?”

I was clueless and thought, “We can’t eat that much humpback whale.” But all I said was, “Well, maybe one or two?”

“One or two?” The person was shocked and mentioned something like at least 5 or 6. All I could think of was the huge humpback whale that I’d seen pictures of when I was growing up. I thanked her and wondered to myself, “Gee, how much Humpback Whale can these people eat?”

Humpies are another name for pink salmon…..not any kind of whale. They make wonderful smoked, dried fish.  The  pictures are all of silver salmon — our main course for many meals. And as you can see, my kids learned early on that there’s more in life than just fish-sticks. Later on, this story was also shared with the congregation…..ah, the laughter!

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Why All Was Silent

Admittedly, this should have been a “highlight” week for me but I have been sick for the last five days. Here is the irony of realizing that our expectations do not always equal our reality.

I received confirmation that my few sample books should be arriving at my door sometime in the next few days! Once I give my final approval, Broken Hearts Healed, will be available for purchase!

So, yes, the achievement of a “lifetime” of waiting and dreams in my heart fulfilled but my poor body didn’t have the energy to celebrate. Further, you were all on my mind daily as I kept thinking, “I should post something…..a devotional, a funny story, a short meditation.” But as you can see, I did not. Silence ruled across my facebook page and website this week. I am just now re-gaining some strength and I look forward to being “back in the swing of things” this coming week. Thanks for your patience.

Nothing Stinks About It

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Where do I begin to share those amazing times we had as a family with our sweet young children? Yes, the pictures show a glimpse but some of the more memorable moments weren’t captured with photography. We love to reminisce and laugh together. I will be the first to tell you we are not the perfect family but in the famous saying of our oldest, Samuel, those were, “Ahhh….good times.”DCP_1334

…..We took the kids on their first backpacking trip to Big Bend, Texas, with some dear friends.  Leah, our youngest, had just turned 4 and she insisted that she wanted to carry her little backpack and water, etc. the whole 2 miles into the back-country and she walked all the way on her own. The first few nights we roughed it all the way. The third night we stayed in a campground. As she and I walked towards the bathroom, she piped up,”Mommy, do you have the shovel?”

Another camping trip… we were sitting outside at the picnic
table in the evening and Ross very calmly and slowly stated,  “Ruth, whatever you do, don’t move….there’s a skunk right beside you.”

I screamed and jumped about 4 feet!!! The skunk jumped about that much, too, and ran off. Thankfully, no spray….I think I scared him even more than he scared me.

Later that night, about 2:00 in the morning, Samuel, age 10, came to our tent and whispered. “Dad, Mom, I hate to wake you up….but there’s a skunk in our tent and what stinks about it, is that Isaac is using it like a pillow and he’s fast asleep.” It had taken Samuel over 20 minutes to slowly and quietly get out of the tent to come to ours, without disturbing the skunk. Ross dragged himself out of the sleeping bag and carefully walked over to the boys’ tent.Big Bend 2003 059

Meanwhile I was desperately praying that the skunk wouldn’t get scared and spray them. All I could imagine was the awful stench and how much tomato juice it would take to make things better.

Ever so carefully, they opened the tent flap to observe the skunk and Isaac, age 6, soundly sleeping.Shining the flashlight and studying closer, the “skunk” turned out to be the stripe of yellow on the hood of Isaac’s blue mummy sleeping bag…

Songs I Thought I Knew

Thinking about the hymn, “Fairest Lord Jesus,” reminded me of when I was a little girl in the Children’s Choir. We were all practicing and I was the youngest one there. I was excited to sing the hymn and thought I knew all the words.

So, I proudly sang, “Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands, robbed in the blooming garb of spring.”

The choir director stopped all of us and corrected a girl a few years older than me.

“Shannon, the word is robed not robbed.”

Thankfully, she didn’t know that I had made the same mistake.

As a teenager, I heard the lyrics for a country song, “Lucille.” It certainly didn’t make a lot of sense to me but I think I would have left you too, if you had given me “four hundred children” and a crop in the field. (thank you, Kenny Rogers)

Dad was very careful with monitoring our television watching in the evenings and “Hee Haw” was a program that we were not supposed to watch. Every now and then I turned the channel and caught snippets of the show.

I understood why Dad thought it was inappropriate because the men would all sit on the porch, with a dog at their feet and sing, “Where oh where are you tonight? Why did you leave me here all alone? I searched the world over and thought I found true love…..you LET another and “poof” you was gone.”

Any show that openly sang about passing gas probably was inappropriate and “vulgar.”

Anyone else ever made these types of mistakes?

Guess there’s a reason I have a hearing aid, now