Prairie's Children, Home in Alabama -- Chapter 2

 

 

Prairie's Children

Home in Alabama

Chapter 2
 

 
The news of a new baby spread like wildfire throughout the area, so a neighborly visit could be expected at any time.  "Oohs" and "Ahs" along with sentences like "looks just like her mother" and "she will have to keep the boys knocked off" could be heard by women of all shapes and sizes. Most had children at home, evenly divided between boys and girls.
 
There were many suggestions about naming the baby girl -- maybe after some member of the family; aunts, cousins, and so forth. No one was sure how the name “Maudie Mae' came to the forefront, but Ruth knew.  The name had been settled long ago.
 
'Maudie Mae' ---- 'Maudie May Fortson'. That was to be the child's name. The pastor of the local Baptist Church was contacted for a prayer of dedication. The next service of the church would be the first Saturday of the month, but that meeting was for *conference, so an agreement was reached for the baby to be dedicated Sunday morning.
 
(*'Conference' is what a business meeting was called, a common term in Baptist churches in the early years.)
 
As if God was smiling on the occasion, Sunday was a warm, bright and sunny day. The happy Fortson family, as Ruth lovingly referred to Josh and herself since the baby arrived, seated themselves in Grant's almost new buggy. Grant and Lolus were satisfied to follow in an old wagon
 
The Fortson family felt they were riding in style. The frame, wheels, and shaft of the buggy were a honey pine color. The body had been painted black and the seat was covered with dark brownish leather upholstery. It was similar to buggies used by country doctors. After all, it was not everyday that such a beautiful gift of a baby was presented to the Heavenly Creator – or that is what the couple thought.
 
The church grounds were filled with buggies and wagons of all types as the men gathered around in groups clothed with their black suits that had not been updated in years and the women in their self-designed dresses made from flour sacks -- some prints and a few solid colors -- almost touching the ground, some revealing the ankles. These were country folk and not necessarily acquainted with the current styles. They could not afford to dress according to the current trend if they did possess that knowledge.
 Ruth and Josh were seated on the front pew; Ruth holding little Maudie in her arms, wrapped in a home-sewed quilt created just for her. With a loving smile only a mother can exhibit, Ruth kissed the infant on her forehead. Still overjoyed with her gift from God, she knew that she would be the most loving and protective mother as she could be.
 
Before any hymn was sung, the pastor spoke in his rough cracked voice. “Brothers and sisters, we have on this happy occasion come together to welcome Josh and Ruth to our congregation and to celebrate their happy event by dedicating their baby to the Lord.”
 
“Amen”, shouted the men and women in unison.
 
“Josh and Ruth, will you come up here and stand facing me?” asked the pastor. The couple complied.
 
“Now as Baptists, we do not sprinkle the child with water as some churches do. They call it baptism. The child can be baptized when she is old enough to get saved. We are here to give thanks to the Lord who, in his divine wisdom, decided it was time for this child to enter the world and to dedicate it to God and that her father and mother will be given the knowledge to raise a proper child.”
 
The pastor laid his left hand on the child's head and the right hand was raised toward Heaven.
 
“Our most kind and gracious Father, we present to you this humble child, not knowing good or evil; that thou will favor it with goodness and mercy and that it may grow in the grace of thee, O Lord; that you will watch over it and guard and protect it from the wiles of the devil; that in due time she may come to know the salvation of your Son and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. I ask this of thee in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
 
To Josh and Ruth, the pastor said, “You may sit down.”
 
The song director rose and said, “We will sing three hymns that we all know: 'Rock of Ages', 'How Firm a Foundation', and 'Amazing Grace'. I think we know 'Rock of Ages' well enough, though it is the newest one. If not, just follow me.”
 
When they started 'How Firm a Foundation', tears swelled up in Ruth's eyes. She remembered her mother singing it in the early evening hours, sitting in an old rocking chair on the back porch when things didn't seem to go right.
 
 
*How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
 
"In ev'ry condition— in sickness, in health,
In poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home or abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

 

"Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
For I will be with thee, thy trials to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"

(*Public Domain – Written 1787 by John Rippon, Joeseph Funk)
 
 
Tears flowed more freely.  Ruth wanted to be as good a mother as the one she had. The responsibility seemed so big now -- maybe larger than Ruth could ever hope to reach.
A kind elderly woman, standing next to Ruth, asked "Hon, do you need to pray? There is a bench in front of the pulpit. It is an altar where you can pour out your heart to God. Come, dear, I will pray with you."
With that, Ruth fell on her knees and without any shame cried out, "Oh God, I want to be a good mother.  I love my baby and I thank you so much for it, but I don't know how to be a good mother.  Please, help me."
Suddenly, something like a small breeze carrying sweet consolation swept across her breasts.  She later described it as a tub of honey being poured out in her soul. She closed her eyes, saying, "Thank you, Lord."
She felt herself drifting, as if on a white cloud, taking her far away somewhere beyond church and the bounds of earth --  somewhere to a place full of light and joy. Ruth saw her mother, clothed in a white robe, smiling and speaking --not with words audible to the ear, but Ruth could hear them in her mind -- "My darling daughter, you will be a good mother. You have already proven the love you have for others and particularly children when you faced danger for their sake. As all mothers, you will face trials, but you will overcome and be victorous beyond you wildest imagination. Just trust God and he will lead you in the right paths."
The vision faded and Ruth felt herself slowly descending. She could hear the sound of singing -- faint at first, but becoming louder and louder until she could understand the words:

*’Tis the old time religion,
’Tis the old time religion,
’Tis the old time religion,
And it’s good enough for me.

It was good for our mothers.
It was good for our mothers.
It was good for our mothers.
And it’s good enough for me.

’Tis the old time religion,
’Tis the old time religion,
’Tis the old time religion,
And it’s good enough for me.

Makes me love everybody.
Makes me love everybody.
Makes me love everybody.
And it’s good enough for me.

 

(Public Domain -- *Adapted from an African-American spiritual by Charles D. Tillman, who first heard it at an 1889 camp meeting in Lexington, South Carolina and quickly became popular thoughout the southeast)

 

Ruth opened her eyes while the congregation was still singing.  "What happened?" she wondered aloud.

"Why dear, you fell under the Spirit," said the kind elderly woman. "I believe God answered your prayers."

Ruth smiled and, still lying on the floor, looked up at her and said, "I think so, too."

 

To Be continued
Copyright 2010 by Starla Anne Lowry
 

 

Prairie's Children, Home in Alabama -- Chapter 2

Nothing like the Ol' Time Religion. If only more people were like this Church. May Your Light Forever Shine

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