Red Hot Peppers


“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Gal 6:10

We lived in the first house that I really remember of my childhood. I tiny little house. We stayed in that house until all six kids were born…4 girls and the baby boy in one room, my older brother in another room, and my parents in the dining room that they converted to their bedroom. We had a big yard, a clothesline, chickens and coops, and goats. For many years we had a big garden. The only things I really remember about the garden were how much I hated weeding and harvesting,..and this story. This particular year we grew red hot peppers. I must have been about 10, my next sister down 8 (T), and the subject of our little shananigan, our 4 year old sister (A). As we were playing in the yard, T and I came up with a brilliant joke to play on A. It must have been Ts idea…she maintained her position in our childhood as the most conniving sibling (don’t worry, she outgrew it about 30 years later). We took A over to the garden and showed her the shiny skinny most beautiful peppers on the little plant and proceeded to describe how delicious this “candy” was. After some work, we convinced her to take a big juicy bite of one. You can imagine our gratification when after the two second delay, her eyes popped out of her head and she ran screaming inside to mama. We little devils were satisfied. At least until Dad found out. Now in the South, there are various and a sundry ways we were disciplined. The most feared was Dad’s belt. The next was mama’s instructions for us to go pick our own switch (ALWAYS get the thick ones). And the last was mama’s “stick” that she kept on top of the fridge. This time, though. This time my Dad knew exactly what to do to ensure this would never happen again. He went out to that garden and picked two big juicy red hot peppers. He gathered the family to the kitchen table. While the other kids got milk and cookies, T and I were instructed to eat a whole pepper. I don’t know how long it took, I just remember eyes bulging, tears streaming, and begging for some milk and cookies to put the fire out. But all we got was water, which is the worst thing for a mouth on fire. Gotta admit, Southerners know how to nip a problem in the bud.

We learned a very important lesson that day. The Golden rule was forever stuck in our noggins. I did feel really bad about what we had done, once I understood fully what we had done. I can be a little slow on the uptake occasionally. I never did anything so cruel the rest of my life. I had come to understand what evil was in my small little child world. I’d gone to Church my whole life, every Sunday. I’d been taught since infancy how to love and treat other people, especially our family. The saddest part was, I don’t honestly believe I would ever have done that to a friend. But we were so willing to do it to our sister. Our children in Church often sing a very tender song nowadays, “If the Savior stood beside Me”….”If the Savior stood beside me, would I do the things I do?” I’m sure I repented of the evil I did that day…we were taught that. So I’m sure the Savior has forgiven my childhood misgiving. For that I am grateful.

“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Isa 43:25
He’ll not only forgive my sins, but will remember them no more. The harder thing for me to do is to forgive myself. I suppose I just need to remember to be as kind to myself as the Savior is to me.

And then. Always. There is this.
“Then came Peter to him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
“Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Matt 18:21-22
Recently my daughter was stopped by a Policeman for a minor offense. He treated her horribly. I shared this with my neighbor who is a Policeman. And I also shared with him when I was stopped at age 16 for a minor offense and treated horribly. Both of our offenses were that we didn’t have our headlights on. My neighbor kindly answered that that is the number one thing someone under the influence will do…not turn on the headlights. I was stunned. I was speechless. This hit me like ton of bricks. I didn’t know! The guilt was flooding. But I didn’t know! I was completely unprepared for what he said next. With those deep eyes of experience, eyes that you can get lost in, eyes that tell you there are horrors in the world you never want to know about…with a kindness and a softness and an understanding and with unjudging…he said, “You know. It’s interesting. All the things that we do in the field, we always get remembered for that one stop.” I could only hope he didn’t see the tears filling my eyes. For thirty years, I’d harbored this opinion of an old Policeman who was just doing his job. Thirty years. Would I want the Savior to remember me for that one hot pepper mistake? How could I have done just that for thirty years. So here I am. Still learning the hot pepper lesson. All these years I really thought I’d learned it. And then another angel is put in my path to teach me one more thing about my Savior, and about living, and about forgiving, and about not judging.

In a season of Thanksgiving, and focus on Jesus, and angels among us in the form of friends and family and neighbors…I hope my kiddos don’t take so long to learn what I’m still learning. Remember. Watch out for the red hot peppers.

Merry Christmas my sweet angels! Oma

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  1. I think we were all placed here for a lifetime of learning. Each hot pepper mistake, makes us look at the next situation differently. Its what we do with the information that matters. You are a wise woman with great strengths, and Im certain youve taught your children well. Merry Christmas!

  2. Well said, thank you so much! Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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