Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MIX (10/22/15)
TITLE: Old And Set In Her Ways
By Leola Ogle
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I first noticed it when I complained about the younger generation and their instant, pre-made, pre-packaged world. What ever happened to made-from-scratch? Trail mix – when I had to pick out the raisins and little candy-coated chocolate, no thanks. I bought things I like and made my own trail mix.
Cake mix? No way. I used recipes passed down through my family. Tastier than anything from a cake mix, I guarantee. Pancake mix. Canned, boxed, and frozen foods. I made my own bread, not from a boxed bread mix. My mama had a garden and I’d always had a garden. I never bought canned or frozen mixed vegetables or fruit because, like trail mix, there are some things I don’t like. Peas – yuck. Mango – another yuck.
I might have continued in my grumbling, complaining set-in-my-ways old lady mode if it hadn’t been for Cynthia and her little girls, Annie and Mikayla. I grumbled and complained about Cynthia plenty – coming to church in jean shorts and tank tops. And her a young widow woman. Her husband was killed in Afghanistan – God rest his soul, and bless him for his service to our country.
Causing men to lust, that’s how I pegged Cynthia. In my day, girls and women in the church were modest. Mercy, we didn’t even have mixed bathing at church camp in my younger days. And by mixed bathing, I don’t mean taking a bath. I mean boys and girls did not go swimming together. Ever. But I’m getting off on a rabbit trail.
Cynthia and her girls. I "humph-ed" and "tsk-tsk-ed" every time I passed her. Her little girls – well, they were cute and not responsible for their mother. I suggested to Pastor Olson that I’d donate money – anonymously, of course – for Cynthia to buy new clothes. He put his arm around me and said, “Now, Rose. Cynthia could probably use the money more to help pay bills. She’s new to attending church, so give her some time. You should get to know her. She’s really very sweet.”
Then there was the Sunday the littlest girl, Annie, came running across the parking lot, opened my rear car door and hopped inside. She gasped when I turned to glare at her. “I….I”m sorry. I thought it was mommy’s car. I got mixed up. Are you mad?” Then she burst into tears.
Mixed up? Because Cynthia’s car is burgundy and so is mine? Humph. My car is newer and smaller. Before Annie could scramble out of my car, Cynthia was tapping, and motioning me to roll my window down. Which I did, then sputtered when she bent over and her God-given assets were right there in my face. I wanted to take my blouse off and cover her.
“I’m so sorry, Rose,” she said, with a worried look on her face. “Annie wasn’t paying attention and got in your car by mistake. Here, honey, tell Rose you’re sorry.” She pulled the still sobbing little girl forward and Annie mumbled an apology.
That’s when it hit me – I had become as bad, or worse, than Grace Hulard if a little five-year-old was afraid of me. Shame flushed my face. This young woman had recently lost her husband, and her little girls lost their father. They came to church seeking support and comfort.
My heart filled with compassion. “It’s okay, honey,” I said to Annie. “I get mixed up lots of times, too. Cynthia, would you and your girls like to come over for lunch today? My husband’s been in heaven for several years now, and my children and grandchildren live in another state. I put on a pot roast and vegetables this morning, and it’s more than I can eat. And I baked homemade chocolate chip cookies yesterday.”
And that’s how God used Cynthia and her daughters to soften my hardened heart. They came over frequently after that. I taught them how to make cookies and cake from scratch. It was such fun. “I’ve never made a cake that wasn’t from cake mix,” Cynthia laughed.
I even let Annie and Mikayla help me in the garden, watering and mixing seed in the soil. And without being told, Cynthia began dressing more modestly.
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