Now that we are meeting more often, I’ll tell you some more about myself.

My birth certificate says my name is Maude. My full maiden name is Maude Louise Heffe if you must know. Maude was an old name even when I was born, which wasn’t yesterday if you couldn’t guess. I bet nobody has carried the cobwebby moniker Maude since I was born. And Heffe is a little odd. H-E-F-F-E. Why the “E” at the end? It’s not fancy, it’s silly.

The curse of Heffe went away when I married Sam Smith. At least I didn’t have to be embarrassed front and back. I called Sam “Sammy” and he started calling me “Maudie.” Both names stuck and became natural to us. It was an improvement but I had always wished that from the get go I had been Louise Maude. Hiding the awful name behind Louise would have been better. “Lou” would have saved me from some grief during grade school.

Teasing wasn’t often but when it was it was awful. It seemed to be a special fascination for Arnold Allen. Arnold Alexander Allen, to be precise, the kid who said a thousand times at least, “Straight A all the way” or “I’m all A’s” or “When I’m 18 I’m changing my name to ‘Triple-A Allen’” and obnoxious dreck like that, if he would even understand what that word means.

Arnold would call me “Odd Maude” or “Maude the Clod.” One time when he was talking to his sycophants at recess I heard him say “When it rains she goes out and makes Maude Pies.” They cackled and snorted their allegiance to Arnold and I cried a lot when I got home.

Mom gave me the old “sticks and stones” routine which I listened to with deaf ears while thinking up ugly things to say to Arnold, which I never did. I have wondered if my life would have been different if I had. Anyway, here I am now, and, thanks to Sam and my natural ability, I don’t take abuse quietly any more. Thanks to Sam, my ability, and most important of all, Jesus.

Yes, Jesus. Praise His name! I hope that doesn’t offend you but I get over a lot of stuff by doing what the Bible says we should do. Like praising Him and like doing what He teaches and finding out that it works. Like saying to Him, “God, it’s me, just little old Maudie. I don’t have much to offer and I am not much—but I’m yours. All yours, as honest and unselfish as I can be.” I am sure that He hears and responds lovingly to that, which is why I have been blessed.

Except way, way back, like I told you, and these last two years when I have not felt blessed. It is a struggle to live without Sammy. It’s hard to put up with the habits of some of the people who work here. And it is really hard to do without worship.

We’ll talk about that another time.

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