The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Keeping my mind on the message


January 12, 2018

Isn’t it funny how childhood memories seem to linger through the years?

One such memory is mine. It was no significant day, just another Sunday at church. The only thing that made it memorable was that I had just gotten braces put on my teeth the week before and Sunday was going to be my day to show my braces off to everyone.

After Sunday school I headed to the balcony with my friends. At that time, the church was still on Eighth and Hinkle. The church was packed that day and was sure that in the balcony I would just blend in with the crowd. I had a plan to show off my braces to my friends.

So when Daddy got up to preach I viewed the huge crowd and the packed pews and, after all, I was in the balcony and out of sight. I figured Daddy would not notice because he would be preaching. Mother was sitting in her usual place in the foyer because she greeted the visitors so I didn’t have to worry about her watchful eye to see if I behaved.

I suppose that day Daddy read a scripture first. I don’t remember. But after he read the scripture and began his sermon, I nudged my friends on both sides of me. I grinned big to show them my full set of braces. I tilted my head back, opened my mouth and let them view the shiny caps and wires.

I showed them the rubber bands and pointed with my finger to interesting things in the back of my mouth. I stuck out my tongue so they could see the back of my mouth. I went through the entire braces process I had experienced at the dentist office the week before — from impressions to cement to caps to wires. And I added hand motions so they could get the full impact of the process.

My friends on both sides sat and listened to the details, all the while wanting braces on their own teeth. I was so proud to have braces and talked the whole length of the sermon, explaining, showing off and doing my mouth just right so they could get the full benefit of a new set of wires and hinges.

First, my reasoning was that Daddy would be busy preaching and he would have no clue what I was doing. Second, I thought that in that crowd I would be unnoticed and, anyway, Mother couldn’t see me so I was safe.

But I was surprised when I got home. We sat down to eat Sunday dinner and the first thing Daddy said to me after the blessing was, “How did your friends like your new braces?” I stopped eating. … he had seen me. He had noticed my talking. The best laid plans on my part had failed.

Then Mother said: “Judy, you need to be careful. People come to church, not to hear about your braces. More important, you may have been a distraction for someone else. That is the Lord’s time. You need to remember that.” That was all she said but that was enough. I felt terrible.

I learned my lesson early on. I may be so caught up in promoting myself, showing off and thinking only of me, that I cause someone else not to see the bigger picture, the God I serve and the Lord I love. I could easily be a stumbling block to someone.

Well, today my teeth are straight thanks to the sacrifice of mother and daddy. But I learned a valuable lesson that day. Someone may be watching all that we do. We don’t want to get in the way of the bigger picture, the Christ we serve.

Mother’s wise words to me have never been forgotten. In many areas of my life since then, I have learned to try and keep my mouth shut and my mind on the message.

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at:


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