Little Children

Guest Post by Ross McElwee:

DCP_0306Years ago, back on our farm in Texas when our kids were young, I used to have a cabinetry & remodeling business. I would often work long hours, and 10-12 hour days weren’t uncommon. One thing I remember clearly, is how often when I would come home, the kids would all race out to greet me. Often barefoot, often dirty from their play, even having smudges of mud on their faces, they didn’t care. Nor did they care that I was sweaty, or had sawdust on me. Instead, we would all just revel in being back together.

Why isn’t it like that when we come to God? After all, isn’t HE our Heavenly Father? Why do we feel the need to try to clean ourselves up first, like that really matters? Aren’t we supposed to come to HIM like little children? And yes, like any loving parent, HE will take the time to clean us up and if necessary to wash our hands and faces before sitting down for supper, or putting us to bed. I’m thankful that God calls us to be His children…. not “grownups.”

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

Mom’s Idol

Our first year of marriage, Ross got me an antique white bowl and pitcher with pinkish red flowers. As the kids were growing up, we found an old wood washstand that fit it and the antique piece stood in an area in the house that was somewhat in the walkway.

With four young children, I was often anxious that the bowl and pitcher might get broken. As the kids grew, the bowl and pitcher became affectionately known as “Mom’s idol.”

I always wanted the children to know that they were truly more precious to me than any material possession. So one day, I thought through very clearly what I wanted to say to make sure that they knew how much I loved them.

Somberly, I stated, “In all seriousness, I want you kids to know that I value the bowl and pitcher more than all four of you put together.”

My words were all jumbled but I didn’t realize it.

Their shocked faces caught me off-guard so in order to emphasize the point, I repeated what I said. “I’m being totally serious. I want you kids to know that I value the bowl and pitcher more than all of four of you put together.”

When they burst out laughing and told me EXACTLY what I said, I couldn’t believe it. So, it became the running joke…”We knew it all along, Mom. The bowl and pitcher is more valuable than all of us, except for Dad.”

Dyed Hair

DCP_2029I was at the grocery store with my long silver hair pulled back in a ponytail. I had on a large coat and was reaching over to put potatoes in my cart, when I turned around. An elderly black man looked strangely at me as he had been ready to assist me.

He gasped, “Oh, I thought you was ancient!”DCP_2030

Shocked, his wife, also white-haired, stood and gently slapped his arm, protesting wildly to me, “No, your face is young! Your face is young!”

I promptly returned home and had Ross color my hair. If an elderly black couple, easily in their late seventies, thought that I was “ancient” at forty-one, then the silver hair had to go.

Ross kept out one streak of gray, since he said I’d had that when he met me and he felt that coloring all of my hair black would be too stark. For two
weeks, I had the most incredible jet black hair and I felt young again.

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Then we went to Florida. I swam in the ocean and in the pool. I showered in the chlorinated water. Upon returning to Texas, I noticed my hair had red in it and then it changed to purple, reddish brown and no longer the lovely jet black it had been. I called a local salon. The lady informed me,

 

“All brunettes have red in their hair. It just doesn’t show up until you dye it. But since you colored your hair naturally, you can either go back to your salon and have them bleach and re-color it or you can just wait for it to grow out naturally.”

Through tears, I asked Ross to cut my hair. He was so compassionate as the locks fell to the floor. In fact, he had one of the kids sweep so I wouldn’t see how much was gone. Where it had been almost to my waist, now it was cut to my shoulders.

Several weeks into the growing out process, my 11 year old son looked at me. “Mom, it’s a good thing that you’re not a vain woman.”DCP_2237

Rather surprised I responded, “Why is that?”

“Because your hair looks hideous.”

Leave it to kids to tell you the truth.

Udderly Mistaken

It started with a trip to a dairy farm. We were all herded single file through the rooms with grey cinder block walls and floors and the Mexican workers sitting beside the cows. The udders hung full and swayed heavily as the cows slowly headed single file through the metal shoots. Into the milking room and the smells of hay and animal filled my nostrils. All the cows were milked. We saw the whole process as kindergarten kids but I don’t remember any milk that we drank. It was just a field trip. The closest I got to cows.

Years later, in my complete naiveté, I stood beside a life-size statue of an animal. I called to my Dad from several yards away, “Hey Dad, watch me milk it.”

His shocked face and squinted eyes stared at me. He quickly pleaded, “June, please go get your daughter.”

I did not actually touch the statue and I was ignorant of my mistake since the hanging bulge looked like an udder to me and I had never seen anything except “cows.”

So, when it was explained, “Ruth Mary, that is a bull.” I was mystified and embarrassed.

You would think at age 19 I should have known better. Ah, the dangers of early childhood impressions. I was indeed, “udderly mistaken.”

Social Settings

I hated social settings because they made me fearful and nervous. 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 hotel banquet hall 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!

Senior Citizen

So it happened again today. Not quite as I expected.

We walked into the grocery store and I thought, “Wow, why are all these elderly people here?” Twenty folks in wheelchairs crowded into the front just beyond the sliding doors. Then, I saw a woman with a notepad and she was making sure that the elderly folks all had someone assigned to them to help them shop. I thought, “Well, that’s really sweet.”’

I didn’t think anything more about it until Ross and I were in the checkout. I heard the twenty-something cashier say awkwardly, “I presume that at least one of you is a senior citizen?”

I replied, “Excuse me?”

She fumbled and repeated it, pointing at a badge that I couldn’t really see.

I asked, “How old?” I wanted to know the criteria for being a “senior.”

She answered, “Fifty-five and up.”

I firmly stated, “I am fifty-one.”

Whether she meant it exactly how it came out, I don’t know.

“Well, you look close enough to be one… Merry Christmas.”

Perhaps that’s not a big deal….except that thanks to my silver hair, people have mistaken me for Ross’s mother for over a decade.

Yes, I colored it once…..but that’s a story for another day.