The Marvelous Lady I Met at the First White House of the Confederacy
It seems like big times in America, doesn’t it? The President of the United States sang ‘Amazing Grace,’at a funeral this week, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of homosexual marriage, Southern state capitals are taking down the Confederate flags, and ISIS runs through the middle east, torturing and killing everyone who doesn’t agree with them.
Where do you even begin to explain the world today to your children? Well, I very happily will show them the video of Obama singing Amazing Grace. As for the other stuff, we tell them what they are ready to understand, and explain the rest as they get older.
We may have introduced the ISIS information too early. A few months ago, we went out to dinner, and right before we got out of the car, one of the boys said, “Okay, let’s keep the Jesus talk kind of shush, though, because we don’t want anyone, you know, killing us.”
Sad! So, of course, we explained to them that in America, we have the freedom to be whatever religion we choose, and no one should kill us for that. That was a great relief to the boys. However, people abroad matter just as much as people in the U.S.A., and in many places, Christians are martyred in great numbers.
This week we happened to be passing through Montgomery, Alabama. The boys learned all of the state capitals in school this year, so we figured a drive by the capital building would be nice. When I discovered that the First White House of the Confederacy was right across the street, I was so excited. I just had to take the boys inside.
Why? Well, for one thing, it was one of my favorite field trips when I was a fourth grader. I love touring old buildings of historical significance. Plus, the boys know very little of the Southern side of the war, which is funny considering that they had about 30 super-great-grandfathers that fought for Alabama in the Civil War.
It doesn’t bother me that they pulled the Confederate battle flag down from the Alabama state capital. If it is being used as a symbol of hatred, then we don’t need it up there. I wish pulling the flag down could fix the problem of prejudice in America, but of course it won’t.
Sometimes it feels like the world is falling apart, doesn’t it? How could a man walk into the House of God, and murder nine people?
How come no one seems to know right from wrong anymore?
How is ISIS getting away with mass murder?
Why can’t we all just get along?
One day we will.
…3And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” 5And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”…
I can’t tell you how oddly encouraging my trip to the First White House of the Confederacy was, and it had nothing to do with the Confederacy or Alabama history. It was all a divine appointment, you see.
We dragged our boys into the building and showed them around the rooms, all decorated as they would have been in the Civil War. We walked to the back, where there was a teeny tiny souvenir store, and John David started clinging to us and crying. He would not go in there because it had a high counter, and he was afraid it was a church nursery. Poor baby. I escorted the boys upstairs, while Alan stayed and talked to the sweet older lady, keeping the store.
She had a faint Polish or German accent. She complimented Alan on our children. She had six herself. 5 boys. 1 girl. She was also a military wife. Alan saw us going upstairs, and said, “Oh, I’d better catch up,” but she said, “Oh, she’s got ’em. She might be pulling her hair out by the time she’s done, but she’s got it.”
We didn’t spend too long upstairs. There were lots of beautifully decorated rooms, full of period furniture. You go through a place like that pretty quickly with four little boys. When I got downstairs, Alan told me how much in common we had with this sweet lady.
I asked her, “What birth order was the girl?”
Her husband was a Vietnam War veteran. She said that when the kids were babies, it felt like it would never end, like she would go to Heaven on a tower of diapers. And then, just like that, it was over.
She gave each boy a different flag, to represent a different Southern state. She took a book about the history of the house and stuffed it into my purse. She gave us all the things a field trip group would get. I so appreciated it. She told us all about the Davis children in the painting.
Then, without any prompting whatsoever, she looked right at me and said, “You know, for many years, I had a terrible pain in my hip.”
Y’all! Ever since my first pregnancy, my hip and I have been back and forth. This whole trip, my hip just keeps getting worse and worse. I’m in here lying flat on my back, as we speak, trying to get better.
She gave us a history of all the treatments that doctors tried for her hip, and finally a chiropractor told her that it was from years of carrying all those babies, always on her left hip. It took two years, but the chiropractor was able to completely fix her hip.
Her words were so encouraging. I ALWAYS carry my babies on my left hip. Always.
She turned to Alan and said, “You make sure she gets taken care of.” Alan said, “Oh, yes, ma’am, I’ve already made her an appointment for when we get back.”
I could relate to every word this lady spoke. She was even from my same home town.
I asked Alan if he had said something to her about my hip, and he assured me that he had not. It was just the craziest thing. There’s something extra special about meeting someone who has walked the path you are walking and meets you with encouraging words. I left that museum feeling so uplifted.
Thank you, dear lady. I wish I knew your name.
6Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6
No matter what this world throws at us, I hope that I too can be an encouragement to those around me. I want to make sure that the words of my mouth only edify and never tear down. It’s a tough order, I know I’m not there yet, but what a great ideal to aspire to.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
Our Southern summer vacation is ending now. It’s been a pure delight. Thank you all so much for spending a little time with us. This has been a balm to my soul, and I’m not just being dramatic. We needed this. Thank you!