There Was an Old Woman

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Spring Greetings Dear Fellow Blog-Nogs,

Some time ago, I was a guest on a live, national television talk show.  I was invited to talk about the inspiration and adventures in the publishing of my Christian Mother Goose books.  It was a hosted half-hour show and I was prepared to be interviewed for a short segment of the program.  I had books in hand, and stories to tell of the trials and tribulations I found along the way to becoming an author.

Dressed in my costume, I waited in the wings, both surprised and pleased with the beautiful stage setting, a lovely garden of fresh flowers surrounding an enchanting, giant shoe-house.  Robin, the set designer, had thoughtfully built it, themed around the Christian Mother Goose rhyme: “There was an old Woman who lived in a Shoe.”

I was just thanking Robin for building the enchanting shoe-house when another surprise came.  I was told the host had suddenly left due to a family emergency and “would I please just carry the half-hour show alone?!”  Panic time!  911 prayer time!  S.O.S. “Help, Dear Lord!” (There must surely be a verse of Scripture for such a time as this).  Ah, a ray of comfort came from Mark 13:11, “….but whatever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye.…”

Then the pit orchestra struck the opening intro, and I was live on stage, on national television, with a half-hour program for The Lord to fill.

A group of young children sat close to a mound of marigolds, so I walked directly to them and addressed a little boy about five years of age.  “Isn’t this a beautiful shoe house?”  I asked him.  “Wouldn’t you like to live in it?”  “No!” he responded firmly.  “Why not?”  I challenged him.  “Because it might stink!” he exploded, with a close-up grimace for national TV.  And that was God’s answer to my prayer – a program framed around “fragrance and sweet savors,” inspired by a forthright little boy.

The Shoe House had been carefully built by Robin, as unto The Lord.  The Scripture tells us that God smells a “sweet savor” from that which is offered to Him from the heart of His children.  Therefore, Robin’s gift to Jesus could never “stink.”  Look at Genesis 8:21 for what God calls a “sweet savor.”

Here we find the account of the ending of the Great Flood.  The waters had abated and the earth was dry.  God instructs Noah to

leave the Ark of safety, along with a multitude of creatures.  A new world is in front of him.  But his first act on dry ground was to build an altar to present burned offerings unto The Lord in thanksgiving.  And yet, after over a year’s confinement in the Ark, with all the smells and animal refuse that normally would have gathered in that time, in spite of all this, the Bible sublimely states God’s response as…“The Lord smelled a sweet savor.…”

Surely this is an encouragement to us earthlings that our Heavenly Father sees beyond the trappings of apparent lowly, even “stinky” labors that are performed with thankful hearts to Him.  They are transformed by God’s loving understanding and assessment of value beyond this world’s lopsided scale.  “For man looketh on the outward appearance, but The Lord looketh on the heart.”  (I Samuel 16:7)  Yes, Heaven is handing out fragrant bouquets in the most unlikely places!

I think the old lady who lived in a shoe deserves a bouquet for the daily, loving care of so many children.  And that includes the many Moms today who know the truth of the old adage, “A mother’s work is never done.”  Proverbs 31:28 hands her roses with the message written: “Her children rise up and call her blessed.”

Recently I’ve been assessing the Old Woman in a Shoe’s habitat from a new perspective.  I saw a picturesque seven-story high shoe house on the cover of one of my all-time favorite magazines This England (Britain’s loveliest magazine). Perhaps this enterprising old lady found an entrepreneur’s novel solution to the poor housing situation in 1797, when we first find recorded the old rhyme, “There Was An Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe.”

She seems to belong to a bevy of older women cavorting about in old nursery rhymes, apparently refusing to retire to the rocking chair.  Here are two (out of the 18 known) “Old Woman”  rhymes I know of:

There was an Old Woman tossed up in a basket, nineteen times as high as the moon.”  What an incredible suggestion!  Was she the only volunteer for an 18th century pre-NASA moon-shot try?

There was an Old Woman sold puddings and pies.”  This was a small business effort, no doubt, and not easy to do in the 17th century.  My congratulations to her!

I actually knew such an old woman, only of the 20th century.  She lived in a quaint cobblestone court not far from my home in Liverpool.  To this day, I’ve never known anyone to rival her delicious rice pudding.  Her tiny house/shop was open only for one hour each noon, and she always sold out of her puddings and meat pies every day, Monday through Friday.

Sadly, her house, along with my birthplace and many other homes, was blown away in World War II.  Those were the days when, in spite of war, all the Ainsborough shoes were lined up each Saturday night for polishing and buffing.  My Dad commandeered this ritual on behalf of my Mother’s rule of conduct that, regardless of the war, we should always be ”well shod.”

And as we leave the Old Woman who lived in a shoe, it occurs to me that, in a way, we all live in a shoe – the ones we walk around in all day.  We put them on and our shoes go hither and thither along paths of our choosing.  May we be “well-shod” in these days of mounting Christian warfare, with our feet “shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.”  (Ephesians 6:15)

For now, Cheerio, and blessings as we follow the shoes of Jesus, the Prince of Peace!!

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Christian Mother Goose®

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