Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Of Pink Fingernails and Cadillacs

Her name is Miss Pauline, and her nails are painted pink.

She called to us as we passed, and Eliana turned in her tracks, heading for the door. I pulled on her hand, saying, “No, darling, Daddy’s in the other room, let’s go find Daddy!” but she would have none of it.

In we went, Eliana step-stepping her way over to the little old lady, who sat in her straight-backed chair, fingers splayed across her knees so as not to disturb the fresh, pink paint.

We were accompanying Kevin as he tended to his hospice rounds; Corban and Micah sat on the floor and listened as Kevin read the newspaper to one of his elderly friends. I had taken Eliana out into the long hallway to stretch her little legs, and we peeked into other doorways to say hello, but this room she insisted on entering.

I declare, if it weren’t for my children, I would never meet anyone new, face to face! Although I have gotten much better, I can be painfully shy in new situations, afraid I won’t know what to say, and usually don’t. In my attempts to avoid eye-contact, I come across as rude, and I despise that. But my sons introduce themselves and me to everyone they see, even asking their new acquaintances if they know Jesus! And my baby girl, in all her precious beauty, breaks down the barriers of uncertainty and entices perfect strangers to come up and talk with me.

And so we entered the room of a stranger. Eliana reached the chair, and leaned on her knees, smiling up into the faded blue eyes of "Miss Pauline", as she had introduced herself.

“Dear, could you put her on my lap? I don’t want to smudge my nails!” she asked softly. As I scooped Eliana into my arms, I saw that Miss Pauline’s belly was so swollen, there wasn’t much room for anything, especially a toddler. But gently I set her on the lady’s knees, and then sat on my own knees nearby.

Eliana looked up into Miss Pauline’s face, only giving the oxygen tubes one tug before I said “Don’t touch!”, and then she settled back and looked around the room. There were stuffed puppies everywhere, as well as posters of dogs all over the walls, so Eliana began the shrill “barking” that she does whenever she sees her favorite animal. Miss Pauline chuckled quietly, and we chatted for a little while about her family, and the people we were there to visit.

Soon, there was a rustling behind me, and I turned to welcome my boys into the room. Corban introduced himself, as usual, and Micah’s “H’lo, Miss Pauline,” was muffled because he was wearing his coat backwards, and had pulled the hood over his face. My momentary embarrassment passed when Miss Pauline held out her hands and pulled them to her side, pointing out the framed picture of her pink Cadillac on the wall.

“I didn’t know girls could have cars!” Micah exclaimed, as he pulled down his hood.

“Of course girls can have cars, Micah!” Corban returned. “Don’t you know that’s how Mama got to Daddy’s house to marry him?”

As we laughed together, I marveled at how comfortable my children make me. The shy woman who had entered the room was now sitting cross-legged on the floor, visiting with someone she had only just met. The truth is, Miss Pauline set me at ease as well, with her relaxed manner and patient conversation with the boys.

And when that conversation turned to Jesus, as it inevitably does, I was ready. I looked directly into Miss Pauline’s eyes after Corban asked his question, my own eyes kind and encouraging, and she answered with a smile, “Yes. I know Him.” It was enough for Corban, and he got to his feet, motioning for Micah to follow, and hugged Miss Pauline’s neck. Micah did the same, and then they asked if they could rejoin Daddy in Mr. Ervin’s room.

In the peace that followed their departure, she said, "Thank you so much for stopping by! Will you come again?"

And of course, I will. We will. My little crew of ice-breakers and I, we’ll take that nursing home by storm, bringing laughter, thoughts of Jesus, and fragrant little-boy hugs.

“For God has not given you a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Those we seek to minister to deserve eye contact, confidence in the faith we seek to pass on, and clear voices and words, not quiet, embarrassed mutterings. My children teach me this, daily. And Someone else, does, too. He bids me go, in confidence, in faith.

And that day, He led me to someone very special, through the tugging of a baby hand in mine.

Her name is Miss Pauline, and her nails are painted pink.

20 fellow travelers shared:

Andrea said...

Oh I like that verse phrased that way "timidity". You just can't "shy" away from *that* truth, when faced with it. Those momments are precious. And that's how it's meant to be--us as mommies doing ministry *with* our children. Thanks, Elise.

Mrs. S said...

I agree. There is something beautiful about seeing children and their parents ministering together. A lovely story, Elise. By the way, your sons never disappoint with their funny comments. You must laugh constantly!

deb said...

Elise, wonderful story! I am definitely the shy one, too, and would love to be one of those people who "never meet a stranger." I'd say you've made a friend in Miss Pauline, and you probably made her day with your visit.

QueenHeroical said...

It is so interesting how becoming a mom opens a person up to such a new world of the possible. Before it would have been impossible for me to walk into such a room, but with a child or two or four with me there is no need for shyness - they are my introduction to the world. I hope I learn of this ease of theirs and His and to act with "power, love, and self-discipline" before they are all grown and gone and He still bids me "go."


Randi said...

Lovely post!

We started visiting a nursing home a few weeks ago. Honestly, it is a little scary but I do know that God has laid it on my heart. After a while we will know the people who live there and we will feel a little less out of sorts. So far, so good.

Christine said...

You made me cry as usual! I have always wanted to take the kids to a nursing home and this just makes me desire it more. I have had high hopes of going monthly at the beginning of the year/semester and life's crazy schedule always gets in the way. Thank you for this lovely motivation to renew my choice to visit.

Holly said...

Ah Miz Elise,

You are such a delight and encouragement to me.

Go write a book, already...would ya? :)

Debi said...

Thanks so much for sharing this...I am sitting here in tears! As always, your ability to see Him at the center of your days and your willingness to share, blesses me...thanks Elise.

Stacy said...

(Agreeing with Holly, here.)

The book. Yes, Elise, do write one.

I so enjoyed your story of Miss Pauline. My children are like this too, asking the most important questions: "Does she know Jesus?" Mine want *me* to ask it, though. God stretches me, surely, with these little ones.

We used to visit a nursing home weekly but fell out of the habit. This does make me want to get back to it.

Love to you and yours, Elise.


Anonymous said...

Oh how I miss you and your family!! You, Kevin, and your boys have been such an inspiration to me (I'm sure Eliana will be there soon...)! I love you all dearly!!
Kake (:

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

Really beautiful. enough said.

Kendra said...

Lovely post, as usual Elise. It is such a sweet thing to see how the Lord uses our children to continue refining us.

Me said...

And they teach you to love those that you find rather unlovable. A little over two years ago, my grandfather died. He was a pastor and his gift was pastoral care. Even after he retired he continued as an Associate Pastor whose work was specifically the elderly and shut-in. He retired fully about a year before he died. However, he still kept a schedule of meetings with certain friends.

When he died, I followed up on an intention that I had had for about six months; that of making a friend at a nursing home to visit (I decided to activate myself in his memory). So we went through the appropriate process of becoming volunteers filling out paperwork, having a background check, and then were assigned to Glen, a gentleman in his mid-eighties, a veteran of the war, a lonely man whose wife was terminally ill at the time we met him.

K was six months old at the time. C was three. Grandpa Glen as we now call him can be tiresome and emotionally demanding. At times, I wanted to give the whole thing up. Now, I love him. Is he any easier to get on with? No. But I appreciate him. What I love is that that my children adore him and he adores them. And what I love most about it is that it is the most Christ-like love I see in them. Glen gives them very little in terms of the material things that they've learned to crave (thanks to an over-generous MIL). He is firmer with them than either set of grandparents. He is over-protective, can't read to them as well as they would like, and he is not physically strong so he can't play with them either. But they adore him in a pure way that I seldom see in their lives.

He thinks I am wonderful for doing it. I am not. I did it because I felt it was the right thing. I do it because I know it is the right thing. I do it because the girls love him. I do it because God is teaching me - he isn't done with me yet.

Beka said...

How touching, Elise!
I love that verse you included-- something I'm constantly working on, as I tend to be very shy in those types of situations.

And those children of yours-- they are precious!

Anonymous said...

What a precious gift you are giving your children...and they you.

Thanks for coming over today.


bluemountainmama said...

beautiful....and how great that your children are being exposed to this type of ministry and compassion so young. and what a lesson...they see the people as PEOPLE, someone they want to get to know... not just someone to try to convert or minister to. i've found that most of the people i meet in ministry often minister to my heart just as much. and thanks for the tip about the book and movie- i haven't heard of it, but will have to check it out.

Maxine said...

This was so refreshing to read! How precious that your children can minister this way--and help you in the process. The lessons they are learning now are having profound effects on their character and I for one find it an encouragement. It's so hard not to bring up our children to be shallow in this day and age--and people like your family help us not to give up hope! I'll try to remember to pray for you guys!

henryteachers said...

That is so like children to help us moms out of our comfort zone. My 1 year old is always smiling and trying to talk to others. She helps me open up and make friends with others. Your boys have such cute and profound things to say too. I enjoy reading about your family's experiences! Have a good weekend!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this with us. There is a whole world out there that could use stories like this.

They say everyone has a book in them. I think you have a whole library.

EEEEMommy said...

I loved this post! Your last line keeps coming back to me! I need to remember to pray for Miss Pauline when it does.

We certainly are sanctified through parenting. It's amazing how God uses our kids to stretch us!

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