Now that Christmas is over, the cabinet in my mother-in-law’s kitchen where the sweets are kept has gradually grown bare as the homemade thumbprint cookies, Martha Washingtons, and haystacks have been consumed. No longer are the wintery nights capped off with a napkin full of cookies and a short glass of egg-nogg. This does not mean the cravings are gone however as my body wonders where all those delicious carbs disappeared to. These disappearing carbs is what brings to mind this story of when all are children were young to mind.
My wife’s younger sister is blessed with four children; three boys and a girl. Ruby Lynn, the baby of the bunch ,is seven years younger thsn her oldest brother which has been good at times and not so good at others. Though Jed likes to needle his younger sister at times, their parents have done a great job in raising up their children by what the Bible says in Proverbs22:6, “Train up a child [a]in the way he should go, Even when he grows older he will not abandon it.”On the surface this would seem like an easy thing for a Christian family to do, however Ruby Lynn has always been a very literal child and has taken several things to the extreme, especially when it comes to the spiritual realm.
When Ruby Lynn was much younger, her parents had taught her Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Well, one evening her mom walked out on the porch where the kids had been playing only to meet Ruby Lynn stomping through the door in the aftermath of yet another fight with her brothers. As she came in the house Ruby Lynn could be heard muttering, “ Lord, please kill him, kill him now where he will leave me and my friends alone!”. The him she was referring to was her before mentioned brother Jed. Anytime Ruby Lynn and her friends in the neighborhood were together playing he would come out and break up their tea parties or whatever else they were doing.
On this particular afternoon, he had ridden up up on his bicycle and systematically ran over all the stuffed animals the girls were playing house with before laughing hysterically as he rode off into the the sunset. Ruby knew she couldn’t stand up to her brother physically so she had resorted to what her parents had taught her about the desires of her heart which at this point involved reducing her brother to pilar of smoking ash.
Once inside, she found her mom who patiently began to explain to her daughter that praying for the people we die is not exactly what God had in mind when talking about the desires of our hearts.
A few weeks passed, and Ruby’s parents feltlike It was once again safe to talk to her about prayer and what the bible had to say about it. This time they used John 14:13-14, “And whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” Her mom spoke in a very soothing patient voice as she explained one more time that God didn’t want are enemies to die. Whether the message sunk in or not,it seemed to calm Ruby Lynn down and soon she was fast asleep on the couch with her head resting on her mother’s lap.
Ruby Lynn’s understanding of the passage would be put to the test the following week when Ruby and her mom went grocery shopping. A hour into their trip to the local Kroger found Ruby’s mom frantically scanning the half empty shelves of the grocery store to see if any of the remaining items were on her list as Ruby rode in the front of of the buggy quietly amusing herself on her mom’s iPad.
Knowing that the weather was supposed to take a turn for the worse she quickened her pace as she and Ruby Lynn flew up the canned vegetable aisle and down the condiment aisle like a race car at Daytona. That is until her mom took a wrong turn and ended up smack dab in un the middle of the forbidden zone.
You see as a girl grew older in our family, she learned to do certain things. Usually, my grandmother or one of her sisters would teach them how to sew, clean house and eventually how to shop. Shopping was an art form among the women in my family. Every Sunday they would cut the coupons out of the paper and put them in an envelope simply marked coupons. The coupon envelope would be stored in a drawer in the kitchen along with the shopping list. Every time we would run out of something; my grandmother would pull out her list and add it to the bottom. Once the list had enough needed articles on ity to warrant a trip into town my grandmother would take a break from her chores around the house and head to the grocery store armed with her list and envelope of coupons. Once in te store very little time was wasted was filled with military like precision.
From their very first trip to the store as young adults the Cain family frmales were taught tht no matter what the circumstances one should never enter the forbidden zone with children in the buggy. For a trip into the forbidden zone could cause the most well behaved children to turn into screming little monsters.
And suddenly this is where Ruby asnd her mother found themselves. Right in the middle of the cookie aisle, which meant for the next several aisles in either direction they were surrounded by cookies, cereal, and candy, all packaged all packaged and displayed in such a manner as to attract children. Quickly Ruby’s mom sped up her pace hoping to escape to the safety of the frozen food section but alas she would not escape that easily.
“Cookies momma, look at the cookies,” Ruby said as her eyes grew wide in amazement and delight at what surely must be all the cookies in the world stockpi;d in one pace.
“Yes dear, those are cookies and cereal too,” she said softly as to not further excite her daughter. “Momma, buy me some cookies” Ruby said in a somewhat urgent voive.
“No dear,” her mom continued calmy, “We have cookies at home.
“But not these cookies” she pleaded, “these cookies were baked by elves,” Ruby Lynn said with a tone that clearly indicated she was tired of pointing out the obvious.
It was at this point that dear old mom realized they were almost to the end of the aisle, so summoning a second wind she kicked it into high gear as the shopping cart rounded the corner on two wheels as it plunged into the relatively safe environment of the paper products aisle. Her relief would be short lived however due to a remodeling of the store there were now boxes and boxes of cookies where plates, napkins, and red solo cups used to rest. To make it even worse, the brightly packaged products were precisely at eye and hand level for children to see. Knowing this was her last chance to get these highly coveted cookies Ruby said in a slightly louder voice, “Please momma, I need these cookies!”
“Dear, I’ll get you a cookie when we get home, her mother said as she raced down the aisle towards the checkout counter. Ruby Lynn began to breathe deeply and her forehead wrinkled up as she pulled herself up to her feet and screamed at the top of her lungs, “ IN THE NAME OF JESUS I NEED THESE COOKIES!!!!”
Shortly thereafter Ruby’s mother’s car pulled out of the Kroger parking lot with mom behind the wheel and Ruby calmly sitting in the back seat munching on a freshly purchased cookie as her mother tried to once again explain the lesson on prayer to her smiling daughter.
Jim Cain is currently the lead pastor at Greenleaf and Palestine Unted Methodist Churches. His column,Raising Cain appears in several newspapers throughout the state as well as omline. He may nbe reached for comment at Jimcain78@gmail.com